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  1. Cities can cut greenhouse gas emissions far beyond their urban borders

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    • Upstream emissions may occur anywhere in the world and are roughly equal in size to the total emissions originating from a city’s own territory, a new study shows.
    • Cities should be encouraged and enabled to focus on their full emission spectrum — local and upstream — as they continue to develop their climate mitigation plans.
    • Among the cities studied, Berlin’s global hinterland is largest, with more than half of its upstream emissions occurring outside of Germany, mostly in Russia, China and across the European Union.
    • 20% of Mexico City’s considerably smaller upstream emissions occur outside Mexico, mainly in the US and China.

    November 7, 2017 Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK)

    Greenhouse gas emissions caused by urban households’ purchases of goods and services from beyond city limits are much bigger than previously thought. These upstream emissions may occur anywhere in the world and are roughly equal in size to the total emissions originating from a city’s own territory, a new study shows. This is not bad news but in fact offers local policy-makers more leverage to tackle climate change, the authors argue in view of the UN climate summit COP23 that just started…
    The planned emission reductions presented so far by national governments at the UN summit are clearly insufficient to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, the target agreed by 190 countries, therefore additional efforts are needed.

    If a city instead chooses to foster low carbon construction materials this can drastically reduce its indirect CO2 emissions. Even things that cities are already doing can affect far-away emissions. Raising insulation standards for buildings for example certainly slashes local emissions by reducing heating fuel demand. Yet it can also turn down the need for electric cooling in summer which reduces power generation and hence greenhouse gas emissions in some power plant beyond city borders.

    By choosing energy from solar or wind, city governments could in fact close down far-away coal-fired power plants….

    Peter-Paul Pichler, Timm Zwickel, Abel Chavez, Tino Kretschmer, Jessica Seddon, Helga Weisz. Reducing Urban Greenhouse Gas Footprints. Scientific Reports, 2017; 7 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-15303-x

  2. Bad news: Global emissions rising again

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    • In 2017, CO2 emissions from fossil fuels and industry are projected to grow by 2% (0.8% to 3%). This follows three years of nearly no growth (2014-2016). (GDP to rise 3.6% according to IMF figures).
    • Global CO2 emissions from all human activities are set to reach 41 billion tonnes (41 Gt CO2) by the end of 2017. Meanwhile emissions from fossil fuels are set to reach 37 Gt CO2 — a record high.
    • Atmospheric CO2 concentration reached 403 parts per million in 2016, and is expected to increase by 2.5 ppm in 2017.
    • [and some good news] CO2 emissions decreased in the presence of growing economic activity in 22 countries representing 20 per cent of global emissions; Renewable energy has increased rapidly at 14% per year over the last five years — albeit from a very low base.

    November 13, 2017 University of East Anglia read full ScienceDaily article here

    Global carbon emissions are on the rise again in 2017 after three years of little to no growth. Global emissions from all human activities will reach 41 billion tons in 2017, following a projected 2 percent rise in burning fossil fuels. It was hoped that emissions might soon reach their peak after three stable years, so this is an unwelcome message for policy makers and delegates at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 23) in Bonn this week.

    The research, published today simultaneously in the journals Nature Climate Change, Earth System Science Data Discussions and Environmental Research Letters, reveals that global emissions from all human activities will reach 41 billion tonnes in 2017, following a projected 2% rise in burning fossil fuels.

    The figures point to China as the main cause of the renewed growth in fossil emissions — with a projected growth of 3.5%.

    CO2 emissions are expected to decline by 0.4% in the US and 0.2% in the EU, smaller declines than during the previous decade.

    Increases in coal use in China and the US are expected this year, reversing their decreases since 2013….

    ….[some good news] CO2 emissions decreased in the presence of growing economic activity in 22 countries representing 20 per cent of global emissions….

    Glen P. Peters et al. Towards real-time verification of CO2 emissions. Nature Climate Change, 2017; DOI: 10.1038/s41558-017-0013-9

  3. Urgent emission reductions needed to achieve 1.5°C warming limit; “not yet geophysically impossible” but requires ambitious emissions reductions

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    • limiting the increase in global average temperatures above pre-industrial levels to 1.5°C is not yet geophysically impossible, but likely requires more ambitious emission reductions than those pledged so far
    • Contrary to many other studies, this finds we have more than 700 billion tons left to emit to keep warming within 1.5 degrees Celsius, with a two-thirds probability of success. “That’s about 20 years at present-day emissions
    • From their study: Emission budgets and pathways consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C [abstract below]
      • Assuming emissions peak and decline to below current levels by 2030, and continue thereafter on a much steeper decline, which would be historically unprecedented but consistent with a standard ambitious mitigation scenario (RCP2.6), results in a likely range of peak warming of 1.2–2.0°C above the mid-nineteenth century.
      • limiting warming to 1.5°C is not yet a geophysical impossibility, but is likely to require delivery on strengthened pledges for 2030 followed by challengingly deep and rapid mitigation
    September 18, 2017 University of Oxford read full ScienceDaily article here

    [Scientists] investigated the geophysical likelihood of limiting global warming to “well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C.”  …the paper concludes that limiting the increase in global average temperatures above pre-industrial levels to 1.5°C, the goal of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, is not yet geophysically impossible, but likely requires more ambitious emission reductions than those pledged so far….

    ….’This paper shows that the Paris goals are within reach, but clarifies what the commitment to ‘pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C’ really implies. Starting with the global review due next year, countries have to get out of coal and strengthen their existing targets so as to keep open the window to the Paris goals. The sooner global emissions start to fall, the lower the risk not only of major climatic disruption, but also of the economic disruption that could otherwise arise from the need for subsequent reductions at historically unprecedented rates, should near-term action remain inadequate.’…

    A group of prominent scientists on Monday created a potential whiplash moment for climate policy, suggesting that humanity could have considerably more time than previously thought to avoid a “dangerous” level of global warming. The upward revision to the planet’s influential “carbon budget” was published by a number of researchers who have been deeply involved in studying the concept, making it all the more unexpected. But other outside researchers raised questions about the work, leaving it unclear whether the new analysis — which, if correct, would have very large implications — will stick.In a study published in the journal Nature Geoscience, a team of 10 researchers, led by Richard Millar of the University of Oxford, recalculated the carbon budget for limiting the Earth’s warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above temperatures seen in the late 19th century. It had been widely assumed that this stringent target would prove unachievable — but the new study would appear to give us much more time to get our act together if we want to stay below it.

    What this paper means is that keeping warming to 1.5 degrees C still remains a geophysical possibility, contrary to quite widespread belief,” Millar said in a news briefing…..

    It is very hard to see how we could still have a substantial CO2 emissions budget left for 1.5 °C, given we’re already at 1 °C, thermal inertia means we’ll catch up with some more warming even without increased radiative forcing, and any CO2 emissions reductions inevitably comes with reduced aerosol load as well, the latter reduction causing some further warming,” Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany said by email.

    …In 2013, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) calculated that humanity could emit about 1,000 more gigatons, or billion tons, of carbon dioxide from 2011 onward if it wanted a good chance of limiting warming to 2 degrees C — launching the highly influential concept of the “carbon budget.”

    The allowable emissions or budget for 1.5 degrees C would, naturally, be lower. One 2015 study found they were 200 billion to 400 billion tons. And we currently emit about 41 billion tons per year, so every three years, more than 100 billion tons are gone. No wonder a recent study put the chance of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees C at 1 percent. Peters said that according to the prior paradigm, we basically would have used up the carbon budget for 1.5 degrees Celsius by the year 2022.

    That’s what makes the new result so surprising: It finds that we have more than 700 billion tons left to emit to keep warming within 1.5 degrees Celsius, with a two-thirds probability of success. “That’s about 20 years at present-day emissions,” Millar said at the news briefing….

    Richard J. Millar, Jan S. Fuglestvedt, Pierre Friedlingstein, Joeri Rogelj, Michael J. Grubb, H. Damon Matthews, Ragnhild B. Skeie, Piers M. Forster, David J. Frame & Myles R. Allen. Emission budgets and pathways consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C. Nature Geoscience Published online doi:10.1038/ngeo3031

    ABSTRACT: The Paris Agreement has opened debate on whether limiting warming to 1.5°C is compatible with current emission pledges and warming of about 0.9°C from the mid-nineteenth century to the present decade. We show that limiting cumulative post-2015 CO2 emissions to about 200GtC would limit post-2015 warming to less than 0.6°C in 66% of Earth system model members of the CMIP5 ensemble with no mitigation of other climate drivers, increasing to 240GtC with ambitious non-CO2 mitigation. We combine a simple climate–carbon-cycle model with estimated ranges for key climate system properties from the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report. Assuming emissions peak and decline to below current levels by 2030, and continue thereafter on a much steeper decline, which would be historically unprecedented but consistent with a standard ambitious mitigation scenario (RCP2.6), results in a likely range of peak warming of 1.2–2.0°C above the mid-nineteenth century. If CO2 emissions are continuously adjusted over time to limit 2100 warming to 1.5°C, with ambitious non-CO2 mitigation, net future cumulative CO2 emissions are unlikely to prove less than 250GtC and unlikely greater than 540GtC. Hence, limiting warming to 1.5°C is not yet a geophysical impossibility, but is likely to require delivery on strengthened pledges for 2030 followed by challengingly deep and rapid mitigation. Strengthening near-term emissions reductions would hedge against a high climate response or subsequent reduction rates proving economically, technically or politically unfeasible.

  4. DRAWDOWN- 100 substantive measures to reverse global warming

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    DRAWDOWN– July 2017

    Summary of Solutions by Overall Rank

    Drawdown maps, measures, models, and describes the 100 most substantive solutions to global warming. For each solution, we describe its history, the carbon impact it provides, the relative cost and savings, the path to adoption, and how it works. The goal of the research that informs Drawdown is to determine if we can reverse the buildup of atmospheric carbon within thirty years. All solutions modeled are already in place, well understood, analyzed based on peer-reviewed science, and are expanding around the world.

    Drawdown is the work of a prominent and growing coalition of geologists, engineers, agronomists, researchers, fellows, writers, climatologists, biologists, botanists, economists, financial analysts, architects, companies, agencies, NGOs, activists, and other experts who draft, model, fact check, review, and validate all text, inputs, sources, and calculations. Our purpose is to provide helpful information and tools to a wide variety of actors who are dedicated to meaningful change: students, teachers, researchers, philanthropists, investors, entrepreneurs, business people, farmers, policymakers, engaged citizens, and more.

    Introduction to Scenarios  Full list of advisors here

  5. Small ‘weedy’ fish species to take over future oceans; acidic waters will reduce fish diversity, mid-sized predators associated with kelp

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    July 6, 2017 University of Adelaide  see full ScienceDaily article here

    The ocean acidification expected in the future will reduce fish diversity significantly, with small ‘weedy’ species dominating marine environments, researchers have demonstrated for the first time…..researchers studied species interactions in natural marine environments at underwater volcanic vents, where concentrations of CO2 match those predicted for oceans at the end of the century. They were compared with adjacent marine environments with current CO2 levels….
    ….”Small weedy species would normally be kept under control by their predators — and by predators we mean the medium-sized predators that are associated with kelp. But ocean acidification is also transforming ecosystems from kelp to low grassy turf, so we are losing the habitat that protects these intermediate predators, and therefore losing these species
    One way this biodiversity loss could be delayed is by reducing overfishing of intermediate predators.We showed how diminishing predator numbers has a cascading effect on local species diversity,” Professor Nagelkerken says. “Strong controls on overfishing could be a key action to stall diversity loss and ecosystem change in a high CO2 world.”A video about the research can be seen at https://youtu.be/oJE595-ALYoIvan Nagelkerken, Silvan U. Goldenberg, Camilo M. Ferreira, Bayden D. Russell, Sean D. Connell. Species Interactions Drive Fish Biodiversity Loss in a High-CO 2 World. Current Biology, 2017; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2017.06.023
  6. Carbon in Atmosphere Is Rising, Even as Emissions Stabilize; natural sinks weakening?

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    • Atmospheric carbon dioxide rose at record rate in 2015 and 2016
    • Still rising in 2017 despite lack of El Nino and a leveling off of carbon emissions from human activities
    • Are natural sinks weakening?

    By JUSTIN GILLISJUNE 26, 2017 Continue reading the main story

    CAPE GRIM, Tasmania — …For more than two years, the monitoring station here, along with its counterparts across the world, has been flashing a warning: The excess carbon dioxide scorching the planet rose at the highest rate on record in 2015 and 2016. A slightly slower but still unusual rate of increase has continued into 2017.

    Scientists are concerned about the cause of the rapid rises because, in one of the most hopeful signs since the global climate crisis became widely understood in the 1980s, the amount of carbon dioxide that people are pumping into the air seems to have stabilized in recent years, at least judging from the data that countries compile on their own emissions.

    That raises a conundrum: If the amount of the gas that people are putting out has stopped rising, how can the amount that stays in the air be going up faster than ever? Does it mean the natural sponges that have been absorbing carbon dioxide are now changing?

    …Scientists have spent decades measuring what was happening to all of the carbon dioxide that was produced when people burned coal, oil and natural gas. They established that less than half of the gas was remaining in the atmosphere and warming the planet. The rest was being absorbed by the ocean and the land surface, in roughly equal amounts.

    In essence, these natural sponges were doing humanity a huge service by disposing of much of its gaseous waste. But as emissions have risen higher and higher, it has been unclear how much longer the natural sponges will be able to keep up.

    Should they weaken, the result would be something akin to garbage workers going on strike, but on a grand scale: The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would rise faster, speeding global warming even beyond its present rate. It is already fast enough to destabilize the weathercause the seas to rise and threaten the polar ice sheets.

    The record increases of airborne carbon dioxide in 2015 and 2016 thus raise the question of whether this has now come to pass. Scientists are worried, but they are not ready to draw that conclusion, saying more time is needed to get a clear picture.

    Many of them suspect an El Niño climate pattern that spanned those two years, one of the strongest on record, may have caused the faster-than-usual rise in carbon dioxide, by drying out large parts of the tropics. The drying contributed to huge fires in Indonesia in late 2015 that sent a pulse of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Past El Niños have also produced rapid increases in the gas, though not as large as the recent ones.

    Yet scientists are not entirely certain that the El Niño was the main culprit; the idea cannot explain why a high rate of increase in carbon dioxide has continued into 2017, even though the El Niño ended early last year….

    ….Human activity is estimated to be pumping almost 40 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the air every year, an amount that Dr. Canadell of the Global Carbon Project called “staggering.” The atmospheric concentration of the gas has risen by about 43 percent since the Industrial Revolution.  That, in turn, has warmed the Earth by around 2 degrees Fahrenheit, a large number for the surface of an entire planet.

  7. CO2 ‘tipping point’ triggered abrupt warming during glacial periods; gradual CO2 rise can lead to sudden change

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    Scientists throw light on mysterious ice age temperature jumps

    June 19, 2017 Cardiff University

    Scientists believe they have discovered the reason behind mysterious changes to the climate that saw temperatures fluctuate by up to 15°C within just a few decades during the ice age periods. In a new study published today, the researchers show that rising levels of CO2 could have reached a tipping point during these glacial periods, triggering a series of chain events that caused temperatures to rise abruptly.

    The findings, which have been published in the journal Nature Geoscience, add to mounting evidence suggesting that gradual changes such as a rising CO2 levels can lead to sudden surprises in our climate, which can be triggered when a certain threshold is crossed

    Previous studies have shown that an essential part of the natural variability of our climate during glacial times is the repeated occurrence of abrupt climate transitions, known as Dansgaard-Oeschger events….”These findings add to mounting evidence suggesting that there are sweet spots or ‘windows of opportunity’ within climate space where so-called boundary conditions, such as the level of atmospheric CO2 or the size of continental ice sheets, make abrupt change more likely to occur….

    Xu Zhang, Gregor Knorr, Gerrit Lohmann, Stephen Barker. Abrupt North Atlantic circulation changes in response to gradual CO2 forcing in a glacial climate state. Nature Geoscience, 2017; DOI: 10.1038/ngeo2974

  8. 2nd warmest May (by a fraction), 2nd warmest spring on record, despite no El Nino

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    May Continues a Ridiculous Warm Streak for the Planet

    By Brian Kahn  June 15th, 2017  Climate Central

    Another month is in the global temperature record books. While May just missed setting a record, the data is another reminder that climate change is making the world hotter and pushing it into a new state.

    This May was the second-warmest May on record, according to NASA data released on Thursday. The planet was 1.6°F (0.88°C) warmer than normal last month, trailing 2016 by just a 10th of a degree.

    …With May in the record books, NASA data also shows that this was the second-warmest spring on record, again trailing only 2016. NASA climate researcher Gavin Schmidt said the first five months of the year make it likely that this will be the second-hottest year on record trailing only, you guessed it, 2016.

    Last year’s record heat got a boost from El Niño. The absence of El Niño this year in some ways makes the planetary heat even more shocking, though it certainly fits a pattern.

    After all, May marked an all-time monthly peak for carbon dioxide levels in what’s become an annual rite of passage. Scientists found that carbon dioxide at Mauna Loa Observatory, the marquee measuring station, reached 409.65 parts per million (ppm) last month. That coupled with the second-hottest May on record are major markers of the current state of the world’s climate.

    This May was the second-hottest May on record. Credit: NASA GISS

  9. California’s Delta Poised to Become Massive Carbon Bank

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    Matt Weiser June 9 2017  Water Deeply  see full article here

    A newly certified carbon trading protocol could help solve a number of problems in the West’s largest estuary, including flood risk, water pollution, habitat loss and threats to a critical freshwater supply.

    The largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas, the Delta is a network of some 70 islands protected by more than 1,000 miles of levees. The soil on these islands is some of the richest farmland in the world because it is composed of organic material: decaying plants that accumulated over millennia.

    But when the levees were built 150 years ago to create farms, this dried out the soil, causing it to oxidize and decompose. As a result, the surface of many islands has slowly sunk below sea level. This results in a stronger leverage force on the levees, making them more vulnerable to failure. That’s a problem because the Delta is also the source of freshwater for 25 million Californians and more than 3 million acres of farmland. If numerous islands flooded due to levee failures, seawater could rush into the estuary and compromise the freshwater supply…

    Campbell Ingram: For every inch of elevation that you don’t lose in a given year due to ongoing agricultural practices, you’re not increasing hydrologic pressure on the levee. And for every inch that you then accrete in elevation, you’re reducing that pressure. It’s a slow process, but it’s at least moving in the right direction.

    A wetland compared to a monoculture of corn is typically going to have higher biodiversity, more use by waterfowl and amphibians and giant garter snakes. You can have some water quality benefits. And obviously the greenhouse gas emissions reduction and subsidence reversal….

    The Air Resources Board recently put out their latest scoping plan, and in that they describe a target of 15,000 to 30,000 acres of managed wetlands in the Delta in the next 13 years. This is one of the best uses of the western Delta because of its importance to the water supply….

  10. Pittsburgh and Paris join over 200 cities and states supporting Paris Climate Accord

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    June 8 2017 Full article here

    Yesterday, the mayors of Pittsburgh and Paris co-authored a New York Times editorial rejecting Trump’s efforts to pin the two cities against each other on climate change.

    Additionally, 12 states (California, New York, Washington, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia) plus Puerto Rico created the US Climate Alliance, committed to upholding the Paris accord. These states represent 97 million Americans – 30% of the national population.

    More than 1,000 U.S. governors, mayors, investors, universities, and companies joined the “We Are Still In” campaign, pledging to meet the goals of the Paris agreement. And California Governor Jerry Brown has effectively become America’s unofficial climate change ambassador….