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Climate and Energy of Focus in Obama’s Final State of the Union

President Obama laid out four big questions the United States has to answer in his nearly hour-long final State of the Union address Tuesday night. One of those four points: How do we make technology work for us, and not against us, especially when it comes to solving urgent issues like climate change? In discussing…

Study Says Electricity Production Vulnerable to Climate Change

A new study in the journal Nature Climate Change suggests that climate-change-related water disruptions could significantly decrease electricity production by the hydropower stations and thermoelectric (nuclear, fossil-fueled, biomass-fueled) plants that account for 98 percent of production around the world. Because the plants need water to cool generators and pump power at dams, they are vulnerable to lower…

Does Jakarta Have any Viable Options to Defend Itself From Ocean Inundation?

JAKARTA, Indonesia–Walking along the wall that protects north Jakarta from the sea, it is impossible to ignore the enormity–and immediacy–of water-related issues that this megacity faces. The city’s current plan of action, outlined by Wendy Koch in a recent article entitled, “Could a Titanic Seawall Save this Quickly Sinking City?,” is widely criticized as being…

Nations Strike Deal to Curb Carbon Emissions

The first pact to commit all countries to cut carbon emissions—the Paris Agreement—was signed by 195 countries in LeBourget, France, on Saturday. Some aspects of the agreement, which will go into effect in 2020, will be legally binding, such as submission of emissions reduction targets and regular review of progress toward them. However, the targets…

Majority Calls for More Ambitious Deal in Paris

More than 100 countries, including the United States, Colombia, Mexico, and the European Union, have formed a “high ambition coalition” in an effort to secure a final agreement at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris. But members will not be satisfied with merely reaching a final agreement—they want an ambitious solution that includes…

Sticking Points for the Paris Climate Talks

At the Paris climate talks, where ministers are hammering out an international deal to curb climate change, two huge debates remain unresolved: the long-term global warming target and the amount and nature of finance that will flow to poor countries, a debate that hinges on differentiation of developing country and developed country responsibilities. “Whether the…

Paris Climate Talks Begin

At the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, world leaders on Monday suggested that stakes are too high to end negotiations on Dec. 11 without inking a climate deal that would limit global warming to two degrees Celsius over preindustrial levels—the U.N.-declared threshold for avoiding the most dangerous climate change impacts. NPR reports that…

The Río Marañón Is Moving: Dam Construction in a Volatile Landscape

Explorers launched a raft expedition in Peru to collect data on the Río Marañón, the headwater stem to the Amazon River. The river is under threat of 2 approved dams and almost 20 more proposed dams. The team faced class V rapids and landslides to collect baseline data along the river corridor prior to dam construction.

Tougher Rules for Pollution That Crosses State Lines

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Tuesday proposed updates to its Cross-State Air Pollution Rule in response to a recent decision by the D.C. Circuit Court. The update now affects 23 states whose nitrogen oxide emissions blow into other states, increasing their ozone levels. No longer subject to the rule are South Carolina and…

Saudi Arabia Joins Climate Change Effort

Saudi Arabia—the world’s biggest crude oil exporter—has become the last of the G20 countries to submit an emissions pledge in the run up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, Nov. 30–Dec. 11. The desert kingdom said it will avoid up to 130 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year by 2030…

Clean Power Plan Publication Triggers Wave of Challenges

The recent publication of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan in the Federal Register triggered the filing of lawsuits by dozens of states in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, along with other challenges, including a petition from a U.S. Chamber of Commerce-led industry coalition for a rule…

Climate Treaty Negotiators, U.S. Businesses Look Ahead to Paris

Most countries have now submitted emissions plans ahead of the Paris climate talks later this year, but success in forging a global treaty in Paris is far from guaranteed. Delegations from nearly 200 countries are meeting this week in Bonn, Germany, to pin down details of a draft agreement ahead of the U.N. talks. On…

Climate Change Gets Attention in Democratic Debate

Four of the five candidates mentioned climate change a dozen times as a major campaign issue during at the Democratic presidential debates this week. Candidates at the Republican debate were largely silent on the issue. “This debate shows that climate has become a central issue, right up there with income inequality and broader economic concerns,”…

U.N. Releases Draft of Negotiating Text for Paris Climate Talks

On Monday the United Nations unveiled a first draft of the negotiating text for climate talks later this year in Paris. That text has been reduced from more than 80 pages to  20 and will be further revised in Bonn, Germany, Oct. 19–23, to advance a final global climate deal in Paris. The many proposals…

China Announces Cap-and-Trade Program

On his visit to Washington last week, Chinese president Xi Jinping announced that his country, the world’s biggest carbon polluter, will launch a national cap-and-trade scheme in 2017. The move would make China the world’s biggest carbon market and could strengthen global efforts to put a price on carbon. The planned emissions trading program will…