Weekly roundup of climate, energy news

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The Climate Action Alliance of the Valley (CAAV) is a non-profit, grassroots group of volunteers in the Central Shenandoah Valley. We produce “The Weekly Roundup of Climate and Energy News”.  Here is an excerpt from a recent Roundup. To read the full Roundup, visit the CAAV website.

Politics and Policy

A paper published in the journal Nature Communications says if all countries followed their current emissions targets, by 2100 the global economy would lose as much as $600 trillion compared with its likely growth if all countries met the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.

Conservative groups aligned with the oil industry hope to block any aid for the solar and wind industries, which have been decimated by the pandemic.  During Rick Perry’s tenure as Secretary, the Energy Department repeatedly hamstrung bipartisan efforts to boost spending on clean energy technology.  As the Federal Reserve weighs how to structure its bond-buying program as part of the corporate relief strategy, one question is if it will consider long-term climate risks in determining which companies to help.

Former staffers from Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s presidential campaign have formed a new group to promote Inslee’s climate plan to Democrats.  They have also released a roadmap for a green post‑coronavirus recovery.

Thirteen states and several environmental groups filed separate lawsuits against the Trump administration seeking to block a rule they say will impede efforts to make a number of products more energy‑efficient.  The administration rejected government scientists’ recommendation to strengthen the national air quality standard for small particulate matter.  It also changed how the federal government calculates costs and benefits of regulating dangerous air pollutants, including mercury, a shift that could restrict regulators’ ability to control toxins.  A vocal set of conservative critics has upped its attacks recently on the modeling behind the coronavirus response, claiming the flaws also prove the limits of climate change models.  A bill that Gov. Northam signed makes Virginia the latest state to require a transition to 100% carbon-free or renewable energy, and the first in the South.  Atlantic Coast Pipeline opponents hope the project will be stopped by a new Virginia law requiring regulators to consider whether gas pipeline capacity is needed for reliability before approving projects.

Climate and Climate Science

National Geographic has an interactive program allowing one to examine what the climate in a given city will look like in 2070 if greenhouse gas emissions follow the worst case scenario set up by the IPCC.  Carbon Brief has updated its map showing climate attribution studies around the world.  The article includes all relevant research published up to the end of 2019, noting “69% of the 355 extreme weather events and trends included in the map were found to be made more likely or more severe by human-caused climate change”.

A vast region of the western U.S., extending from California, Arizona and New Mexico north to Oregon and Idaho, is in the grips of the first climate change-induced megadrought observed in the past 1,200 years.

A new paper in the journal The Cryosphere has confirmed that melting of Greenland’s ice sheet occurred at near record amounts in the summer of 2019.  The study also found that the melting was driven by a record number of high-pressure days with clear blue skies, an occurrence not considered in models of ice sheet melt.

According to a paper in the journal Scientific Reports, parts of the U.S. coastline could suffer “once in a lifetime” flooding every five years before 2050, and it could become a daily occurrence by the end of the century.

Energy

OPEC, Russia, and other oil-producing nations finalized a production cut of nearly 10 million barrels, or a tenth of global supply, in hopes of boosting prices amid the coronavirus pandemic and a price war.  Nevertheless, oil prices dropped sharply on April 14th, with U.S. prices sliding back toward $20 a barrel.

Carbon Brief gathered the latest evidence on how the coronavirus crisis is affecting energy use and CO2 emissions around the world.  Data analysis suggests the pandemic could cause a drop in emissions this year of around 5.5% of the global total in 2019.  After four years of continuous decline, the U.S.’s greenhouse gas emissions increased by about 3% in 2018, according to a new report from the EPA.  Royal Dutch Shell on Thursday announced plans to become a net zero-carbon company by 2050 by selling more green energy to help reduce the carbon intensity of its business.

The operators of the UK’s gas network have set the ambitious target of delivering the world’s first zero carbon gas grid by transitioning away from natural gas to hydrogen (H2).  In the U.S. the “electrify everything” movement is working to outlaw natural gas connections in communities across the country.  Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Group has produced a free e-book about H2 as a powerful ally for renewable energy and tool for decarbonization.

A U.S. court ruled against the Corps of Engineers’ use of a permit that allows new energy pipelines to cross water bodies, in the latest setback to plans to build the Keystone XL oil pipeline.  29 House Democrats are asking the FERC to stop approving new natural gas pipeline projects and new liquefied natural gas export facilities amid the coronavirus outbreak.  A preliminary estimate from NOAA finds that levels of methane in the atmosphere have hit an all-time high.  A new study in the journal Environmental Research Communications finds that by bringing already available technologies and techniques into wider use, we could avoid nearly 40% of the projected methane emissions by 2050.

Globally, cheap fossil fuels and the economic slowdown caused by the coronavirus risk are hampering a shift to renewable energies.  In the U.S., more than 106,000 jobs in the clean energy sector were lost in March amid the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Potpourri

The annual Earth Day event has been extended throughout the week of April 20th to deliver a series of online broadcasts and interactive digital events. Organizers promise to deliver the world’s largest online climate conference.  In the U.S., digital events are being concentrated on the three days beginning April 22. Peter Sinclair’s latest video compares the progression of climate change and the coronavirus and concludes “The broad shape of the story is the same.”  Business reporter and author Christopher Leonard’s new book chronicles the rise of Koch Industries and shows how it has shaped American society.  The Washington Post featured photographer Jonathan Blaustein and his new book Extinction Party.

Joy Loving edited the latest Roundup prepared by Les Grady, a Rockingham County resident and Member of CAAV’s Steering Committee.

 


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