2013 SkS Weekly News Roundup #51C
Posted on 21 December 2013 by John Hartz
- 2013 in review: Obama talks climate change – but pushes fracking
- 2013 climate year in review: 'the heat is on. Now we must act'
- 2014 climate change crystal ball
- Canada’s new emissions rules on hold again, Harper says
- In Northern Gateway pipeline decision, economics trumped all else
- Most companies still releasing unsustainable amounts of CO2
- Panel's approval for Northern Gateway sets stage for PM's pipeline battle
- Reviewing top U.S. climate news stories of 2013
- Strong start for California carbon market, but challenges loom
- Yeah, about that global warming “pause” …
2013 in review: Obama talks climate change – but pushes fracking
This was the year when climate change came out of the closet.
Barack Obama elevated climate change to one of his top presidential priorities. White House and other officials brought up the topic in public after spending the previous four years scuttling away from any mention of climate change. Climate change became a factor in state elections and there were polls suggesting even Republicans in the most conservative states wanted to take measures to avoid a future of dangerous climate change.
But it was also a year when Obama claimed as a personal achievement the expansion of oil and gas production through hydraulic fracturing, and when the coal industry sent coal overseas to rescue the mines closing down at home.
2013 in review: Obama talks climate change – but pushes fracking by Suzanne Goldenberg. The Guardian, Dec 20, 2013
2013 climate year in review: 'the heat is on. Now we must act'
On 10 May 2013, the concentration of climate-warming carbon dioxide in the atmosphere passed the milestone level of 400 parts per million for the first time in human history. The last time so much greenhouse gas was in the air was several million years ago, when the Arctic was ice-free, savannah spread across the Sahara desert and sea level was up to 40 metres higher than today.
The milestone moment was a sobering reminder that the emission of globe-warming gases is continuing unabated, despite ever more certainty that the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation is on track to end the millennia of relatively stable climate during which human civilisation has flourished.
2013 climate year in review: 'the heat is on. Now we must act' by Damian Carrington, Dec The Guardian, Dec 19, 2013
2014 climate change crystal ball
Reporter Bryan Walsh of Time magazine on December 12 engaged in a little climate science 101 for the benefit of readers. Yes, November was cold in many places across the U.S., he wrote. And yes, the climate globally is still warming.
Five days later, The Atlantic published a similar story with the title: “November Was the Warmest November Since We Started Keeping Track: It’s amazing what we can do when everybody works together.”
As coming cold temperatures are accompanied by reminders that global warming is alive and well, journalists, scientists, policymakers, and others are gearing up for another year of climate change developments. Here are a few things to keep an eye on in 2014:
2014 Climate Change Crystal Ball: Upcoming Stories to Keep an Eye On by Bruce Lieberman, Yale Forum on Climate Change & The Media, Dec 19, 2013
Canada’s new emissions rules on hold again, Harper says
Canada is once again delaying emissions regulations in the oil and gas sector, despite major pipeline projects that continue to put intense scrutiny on the energy industry’s environmental track record.
The long-promised federal regulations, most recently due this year, now need to be done “in concert with” the United States, Prime Minister Stephen Harper told Global News in an interview. “So that’s what I’m hoping we’ll be able to do over the next couple of years,” he said.
Canada’s new emissions rules on hold again, Harper says by Josh Wingrove, Daniel LeBlanc abd Shawn McCarthy, The Globe & Mail, Dec 19, 2013
In Northern Gateway pipeline decision, economics trumped all else
An independent Canadian federal panel on Thursday approved Enbridge's proposal to build a new pipeline from the tar sands of Alberta to the British Columbia coast, a significant gain in the industry's long campaign to find export markets for the nation's abundant but carbon-heavy form of crude oil.
The panel set 209 conditions on the project as a way to overcome environmental and safety concerns. Even that, it said, would not guarantee that there would be no environmental harm.
But its central message was that the economic interest in building the line was paramount—"that Canadians will be better off with this project than without it."
In Northern Gateway Pipeline Decision, Economics Trumped All Else by John Cushman, Inside Climate News, Dec 19, 2013
Most companies still releasing unsustainable amounts of CO2
The majority of large global corporations that have reported their annual greenhouse gas emissions for several years now are still releasing more carbon dioxide than they should, a new study published on Wednesday showed.
And most companies scrutinized in the study are still not using science-based thresholds to set emissions targets and to drive actions to reduce their carbon footprint.
Coordinated by U.S.-based Climate Counts, an organization that measures the role corporations play on climate, the report tried to analyze emissions of 100 companies against science-based targets that seek to limit rising temperature to two degrees Celsius.
Most companies still releasing unsustainable amounts of CO2 - study, Reuters, Dec 18, 2013
Panel's approval for Northern Gateway sets stage for PM's pipeline battle
The National Energy Board has given a conditional green light to the Northern Gateway pipeline project, handing off to Prime Minister Stephen Harper a crucial decision that threatens to intensify aboriginal opposition and become a political flashpoint in the next federal election.
In a report Thursday, an NEB review panel recommended that Ottawa approve the $6.5-billion pipeline and crude supertanker terminal in Kitimat,. B.C., once the government and Enbridge Inc. have addressed the 209 environmental, safety and financial conditions set down by the panel. The pipeline would deliver 520,000 barrels a day of oil sands bitumen to the British Columbia coast, opening new markets for the Alberta-based oil industry.
Panel's approval for Northern Gateway sets stage for PM's pipeline battle by Shawn McCarthy, Gloria Galloway and Brent Jang, The Globe & Mail, Dec 19, 2013
Reviewing top U.S. climate news stories of 2013
Many events in 2013 illustrate how climate change increasingly is playing a role in the daily lives of people around the world, whether through efforts to combat it, adapt to it, or devise renewable energy and low-carbon approaches to managing it.
Dealing with climate change creates diverse challenges for scientists, policymakers, businesses. and individuals. Among noteworthy actions in 2013 has been the continuing switch from coal to natural gas in the electricity sector in the U.S., contributing to a decline in U.S. carbon emissions. But that news is tempered by the rise in coal consumption globally, particularly in China and India.
Despite risks climate change poses for humans and natural systems, it continues to evoke little to moderate concern from the American public generally, and concerned scientists and policy makers worry that public awareness lags sharply behind what they say is scientific understanding. While climate scientists overwhelmingly agree that Earth’s climate is warming primarily as a result of fossil fuel combustion, many Americans and policy makers appear unconvinced and unconcerned.
Some of the following choices for noteworthy climate stories — admittedly a selective and partial sampling — may seem unfamiliar, and some of those named here may not make big news for years to come. But no matter what, new and old media in 2013 produced a range of climate change news coverage with some important numbers.
Reviewing Top U.S. Climate News Stories of 2013, Lisa Palmer, Yale Forum on Climate Change & The Media, Dec 19, 29013
Strong start for California carbon market, but challenges loom
As the clock winds down on the first year of California's carbon trading market for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, state officials say they have a lot to celebrate.
The state's cap-and-trade program, which could become a model for other U.S. states, sets a limit on the amount of heat-trapping gases businesses can emit and allows them to trade excess permits.
Regulators this year held a series of permit auctions, with strong demand from buyers. The program poured $533 million into state coffers and is expected to raise $1.5 billion next year.
"California has achieved a strong, transparent carbon price, and we have created a model for the world to follow," said state Sen. Fran Pavley, the author of the state's landmark 2006 law designed to combat global warming. "We have shown that sending a strong signal to the marketplace can reduce pollution and spur better investment planning and economic growth."
Strong start for California carbon market, but challenges loom by Rory Carroll, Reuters, Dec 20, 2013
Yeah, about that global warming “pause” …
If you’ve been paying any attention at all to the ongoing noise about global warming, then you’ve heard of the so-called pause. This is the idea that the planet hasn’t actually been warming for the past 15 years or so.
However, this is baloney. First off, the plot used by people who would deny the Earth is warming up (and that humans are behind it) only shows the temperature of the air over land and ocean. But our atmosphere (pardon the weird metaphor) doesn’t exist in a vacuum; the extra heat retained by our planet is also warming the oceans. In fact, most of that heat is going into deep ocean waters.
Second, if you look at temperatures historically, we see ups and down like this every few decades; you have to look at the overall multidecade trend and not focus on some short (and cherry-picked) time frame.
And now we have something else to add to that list: The “pause” may not exist at all.
Yeah, about that global warming “pause” … by Phil Plait, Bad Astronomy, Slate. Dec 16, 2013