Ecology, Climate Change and Related News

Conservation Science for a Healthy Planet

Category Archive: Policy

  1. UN Climate Talks Suspended Until September: Focus on Rules of Paris Accord in Preparation for COP24

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    UN talks have been officially suspended as countries failed to resolve differences about implementing the Paris climate agreement.

    The negotiations will resume in Bangkok in September where an extra week’s meeting has now been scheduled .

    Delegates struggled with the complexity of agreeing a rulebook for the Paris climate pact that will come into force in 2020.

    Rows between rich and poor re-emerged over finance and cutting carbon [also delaying progress in technical areas including agriculture].

    Overall progress at this meeting has been very slow, with some countries such as China looking to re-negotiate aspects of the Paris deal.

    UN climate chief Patricia Espinosa was putting a brave face on the talks.

    “We face, I would say, a satisfactory outcome for this session but we have to be very, very clear that we have a lot of work in the months ahead,” she said.

    “We have to improve the pace of progress in order to be able to achieve a good outcome in Katowice in December,” she said, referring to the end of year Conference of the Parties where the rulebook is due to be completed and agreed…

    ….The difficulties this week in Bonn have not deterred the UK from throwing its hat in the ring to host the 2020 Conference of the Parties, considered a very crucial meeting.

    It will be the first meeting where the Paris deal will be operational. Countries are also expected to revise upwards their existing promises on curbing emissions.

  2. White House quietly cancels NASA research verifying greenhouse gas cuts

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    • “If you cannot measure emissions reductions, you cannot be confident that countries are adhering to the agreement,” she says. Canceling the CMS “is a grave mistake

    By Paul Voosen May. 9, 2018  Read full Science Magazine article here

    You can’t manage what you don’t measure. The adage is especially relevant for climate-warming greenhouse gases, which are crucial to manage—and challenging to measure. In recent years, though, satellite and aircraft instruments have begun monitoring carbon dioxide and methane remotely, and NASA’s Carbon Monitoring System (CMS), a $10-million-a-year research line, has helped stitch together observations of sources and sinks into high-resolution models of the planet’s flows of carbon. Now, [the White House] has quietly killed the CMS, Science has learned.

    The move jeopardizes plans to verify the national emission cuts agreed to in the Paris climate accords, says Kelly Sims Gallagher, director of Tufts University’s Center for International Environment and Resource Policy in Medford, Massachusetts. “If you cannot measure emissions reductions, you cannot be confident that countries are adhering to the agreement,” she says. Canceling the CMS “is a grave mistake,” she adds….

  3. Hawaii Passes Bill Banning Chemical Sunscreens That Can Harm Coral Reefs; use mineral sunblocks instead

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    • An estimated 14,000 tons of sunscreen is believed to be deposited in oceans annually with the greatest damage found in popular reef areas in Hawaii and the Caribbean.
    • The legislation prohibits the distribution of sunscreens that contain the chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate that contribute to coral bleaching when washed off in the ocean.
    • Reef-safe sunscreen alternatives like TropicSport and Raw Elements include mineral sunblocks with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. They must be “non-nano” in size to be considered reef-safe. If they are below 100 nanometers, the creams can be ingested by corals.

    Elaine Glusac

    On May 1, Hawaii became the first state to pass a bill banning the sale of sunscreen containing chemicals believed to harm coral reefs.

    The legislation prohibits the distribution of sunscreens containing the chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate that scientists have found contributes to coral bleaching when washed off in the ocean. The Hawaii sunscreen bill now awaits the signature of the governor. The new rules will go into effect Jan. 1, 2021…

    …Sunscreen isn’t the only enemy of healthy reefs; other polluters include ocean warming, agricultural runoff and sewage dumping. But banning harmful chemicals, say environmental advocates, is one variable swimmers can control.

    An estimated 14,000 tons of sunscreen is believed to be deposited in oceans annually with the greatest damage found in popular reef areas in Hawaii and the Caribbean. In 2015, the nonprofit Haereticus Environmental Laboratory surveyed Trunk Bay beach on St. John, where visitors ranged from 2,000 to 5,000 swimmers daily, and estimated over 6,000 pounds of sunscreen was deposited on the reef annually. The same year, it found an average of 412 pounds of sunscreen was deposited daily on the reef at Hanauma Bay, a popular snorkeling destination in Oahu that draws an average of 2,600 swimmers each day….

  4. Oil and Gas Companies Pledge Major Methane Emissions Reductions—Will They Follow Through?

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  5. Fossil Fuels on Trial: Where the Major Climate Change Lawsuits Stand Today

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    • Some of the biggest oil and gas companies are embroiled in legal disputes with cities, states and children over the industry’s role in global warming.
  6. Lawsuits vs. big oil lead to court lessons on climate change

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    …A federal judge presiding over lawsuits that accuse big oil companies of lying about global warming to protect their profits turned his courtroom into a classroom Wednesday in what could be the first hearing to study the science of climate change.

    U.S. District Judge William Alsup asked lawyers for two California cities and five of the world’s largest oil and gas companies to present “the best science now available on global warming.” He said at the start of the hearing that he wanted to “stick to the science” and avoid politics….

  7. Climate-Smart San Jose

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    Climate Smart San José (CSSJ) is a bold plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) related to energy and mobility (transportation) and ensure a long-term water supply. The San José City Council unanimously approved the plan on Feb. 27, 2018.

    Executive summary (English)

     

     

    What’s next
    The City will continue to engage the community and hold public meetings in 2018 as it begins to implement the plan.

    What the plan will do
    CSSJ will make San José a climate leader, putting the City on a path to meet GHG reduction targets under the Paris climate agreement. The plan has three components: energy, mobility and water. It aims not only to reduce the city’s carbon footprint but also to improve quality of life for those who live and work in San José.

  8. 2018 is the year of scientists running for Congress

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    March 4 2018 Read full Washington Post article here

    …Part of a nationwide wave of scientifically trained people running for office at every level of government this year, Kopser said he was motivated to run because he sees science being devalued in society — particularly by the Trump administration…

    …The rising activism among scientists is a turnaround for a group that has traditionally seen politics as “grimy and grubby,” said G. Terry Madonna, a professor of public affairs at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa. Many of these candidates have been recruited by 314 Action, a political action committee founded in 2016 to support policymakers who have scientific or technical backgrounds.

    Named for the first three digits of pi, 314 Action describes itself as the vanguard of “the pro-science resistance.” The group’s founder, Shaughnessy Naughton, said 7,000 people have responded to the group’s call to run for office. The group has also assembled a network of about 400,000 donors eager to support candidates who back science-based policies.

    While a few scientist-candidates are running as independents, most are Democrats making their first foray into party politics. (More than 80 percent of scientists in a 2014 Pew survey identified as Democrats or Democrat-leaning.) 314 Action is working with 30 congressional candidates across the country and expects to formally endorse about half that number…

    …Scientists are scarce in Congress. Only one member has a doctoral degree in a physical science — Rep. Bill Foster (D-Ill.), a former high-energy physicist at Fermilab. Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.) worked as an engineer and has a PhD in mathematics. A few others have undergraduate science degrees, including Rep. Louise M. Slaughter (D-N.Y.), who studied microbiology and has a master’s degree in public health. Fourteen members of Congress are physicians, 12 of whom are Republicans. Seven have social science PhDs. An equal number are radio talk-show hosts. There are 200-plus lawyers….

  9. Methane emissions reduction from oil and gas in North America- a proposed policy framework

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    • Atmospheric methane concentrations continue to increase globally
    • The oil and gas sector’s contribution to atmospheric methane concentrations is becoming an increasingly prominent issue in climate policy
    • Researchers propose a North American Methane Reduction Framework to integrate public and private research and mitigation policies.
    February 12, 2018  read full ScienceDaily article here

    Atmospheric methane concentrations continue to increase globally, despite a pledge in 2016 from the leaders of the United States, Canada, and Mexico to reduce methane emissions from each country’s oil and gas sector. Additionally, the trilateral methane pledge faces more challenges as the Trump Administration seeks to reverse federal methane research and control efforts.

    ….The researchers suggest that estimating emissions consistently across U.S. jurisdictions in support of a robust baseline will help the North American countries to achieve the goal by 2025, if coupled with science-based, economically sound policies to minimize methane leakage.

    “It is critical — for both the development of the sector and the environment — that decision-makers in government and industry rely not only on politics and economics, but also scientific evidence,” Dr. Jordaan said. “We have developed a coherent framework that integrates science and policy to help decision-makers to do just that, in support of both economic and environmental goals.”

    ….Konschnik noted that the climate benefits of using natural gas rather than coal to generate electricity evaporate if methane leakage across the natural gas value chain is too high….

     

    Kate Konschnik, Sarah Marie Jordaan. Reducing fugitive methane emissions from the North American oil and gas sector: a proposed science-policy framework. Climate Policy, 2018; 1 DOI: 10.1080/14693062.2018.1427538

    ABSTRACT: The shale gas boom in the United States spurred a shift in electricity generation from coal to natural gas. Natural gas combined cycle units emit half of the CO2 to produce the same energy as a coal unit; therefore, the market trend is credited for a reduction in GHG emissions from the US power sector. However, methane that escapes the natural gas supply chain may undercut these relative climate benefits.

    In 2016, Canada, the United States and Mexico pledged to reduce methane emissions from the oil and natural gas sector 40–45% from 2012 levels by 2025. This article reviews the science-policy landscape of methane measurement and mitigation relevant for meeting this pledge, including changes in US policy following the 2016 presidential election. Considerable policy incoherence exists in all three countries. Reliable inventories remain elusive; despite government and private sector research efforts, the magnitude of methane emissions remains in dispute. Meanwhile, mitigation efforts vary significantly. A framework that integrates science and policy would enable actors to more effectively inform, leverage and pursue advances in methane measurement and mitigation. The framework is applied to North America, but could apply to other geographic contexts.

    Key policy insights

    • The oil and gas sector’s contribution to atmospheric methane concentrations is becoming an increasingly prominent issue in climate policy.

    • Efforts to measure and control fugitive methane emissions do not presently proceed within a coherent framework that integrates science and policy.

    • In 2016, the governments of Canada, Mexico and the United States pledged to reduce methane emissions from the oil and natural gas sector 40–45% from 2012 levels by 2025.

    • The 2016 presidential election in the United States has halted American progress at the federal level, suggesting a heavier reliance on industry and subnational efforts in that country.

    • Collectively or individually, the countries, individual agencies, or private stakeholders could use the proposed North American Methane Reduction framework to direct research, enhance monitoring and evaluate mitigation efforts, and improve the chances that continental methane reduction targets will be achieved.

  10. Governor Brown Takes Action to Increase Zero-Emission Vehicles, Fund New Climate Investments

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    Jan 26 2018  see full news release here

    ….California Climate Investments projects include affordable housing, renewable energy, public transportation, zero-emission vehicles, environmental restoration, more sustainable agriculture and recycling, among other projects. At least 35 percent of these investments are made in disadvantaged and low-income communities….

    The $1.25 billion climate investment plan can be found here.

     

    Some specifics include:

    • Healthy and Resilient Forests (p 5)—$160 million of Cap and Trade funding for the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) to support forest improvement, fire prevention, and fuel reduction projects.
    • Healthy Soils (p 10):  Includes $5m in the budget and another $9 m from SB5 (the new bond measure) for a total of $14m.