The Supreme Court has restricted the ability of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to fight the climate crisis. In a 6 to 3 ruling on Thursday, the nation’s highest court ruled that the Clean Air Agency does not empower the EPA to limit greenhouse gas emissions from power plants without prior Congressional approval. Yet the decision comes on the heels of a global sweep of early heat waves that have made the necessity of climate action ever more apparent. “Whatever else this Court may know about, it does not have a clue about how to address climate change,” Justice Elana Kagan wrote in a scathing dissent. “And let’s say the obvious: The stakes here are high. Yet the Court today prevents congressionally authorized agency action to curb power plants’ carbon dioxide emissions.
The UN’s World Meteorological Organization released its annual State of the Climate report on Wednesday, and the result is a grim account of the progression of the climate crisis. The report found that four key climate indicators broke records in 2021: greenhouse gas concentrations, ocean acidification, ocean temperature and sea level rise. “Today’s State of the Climate report is a dismal litany of humanity’s failure to tackle climate disruption. Fossil fuels are a dead end – environmentally and economically,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in response to the report, as The Guardian reported. A WMO press release outlined how human activity led to broken climate records.
The campaign group, which calls itself the Tyre Extinguishers, came to prominence earlier this year when they claimed to have deflated the tyres of hundreds of vehicles. They say they are leading a new movement across the country encouraging people to take action against urban SUVs and they have previously claimed they specifically target affluent areas of the UK. In a statement earlier today, the group said: "This is to let you know that on Tuesday evening, Bristol Tyre Extinguishers disarmed 50 SUVs in the Clifton area of Bristol. "Bristol is living through an air pollution and climate crisis, and we won't stop until these monster vehicles disappear from our streets." Avon & Somerset Police is treating the spree of incidents as criminal damage and is asking anyone who witnessed anything to come forward.
Mass extinction lurks beneath the surface of the sea. That was the dire message from a study published in April in the journal Science, which found that continuing to emit greenhouse gases unchecked could trigger a mass die-off of ocean animals that rivals the worst extinction events in Earth’s history. The findings serve as just the latest reminder that climate change and biodiversity loss are interconnected crises — even if they’re rarely addressed in tandem by policymakers. Toward that point, the Science study came with a dose of hopeful news: Action to curb greenhouse gas emissions and keep warming below 2 degrees Celsius could cut that extinction risk by 70%.
In 2021, the International Energy Agency (IEA) warned that, in order to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, no new oil and gas fields or coal mines could be developed. Now, a study published in Environmental Research Letters Tuesday goes even further: In order to meet the 1.5 goal, we will have to abandon nearly 40 percent of “developed reserves” of fossil fuels. “Going beyond recent warnings by the International Energy Agency, our results suggest that staying below 1.5°C may require governments and companies not only to cease licensing and development of new fields and mines, but also to prematurely decommission a significant portion of those already developed,” the study authors wrote.
Roundup, Montana - Some rare good news came down from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals recently. In a 2-1 decision, the court rejected an Environmental Assessment (EA) that would have green lighted expansion to the Bull Mountains underground coal mine near Roundup, Montana. The court majority held that the EA provided no scientific reasoning to support its conclusion that the expansion would have no significant impact on greenhouse gas emissions. A Trump appointee on the 3-judge panel dissented on grounds that courts “are ill-equipped to step into highly politicized scientific debates like this.” As a result of the 9th Circuit decision, four environmental groups — 350 Montana, Montana Environmental Information Center, Sierra Club, and WildEarth Guardians — will be allowed to continue their lawsuit challenging the environmental review in Montana federal court.
Olympia, WA - The Washington State Building Code Council voted 11-3 today to adopt a new statewide commercial and multifamily building energy code that will be the strongest, most climate-friendly in the country by driving the transition to clean electricity for space and water heating. This major win for clean energy coincides with President Joe Biden’s Earth Day Seattle visit where he discussed the infrastructure bill and clean energy. The Department of Energy has made heat pumps and energy efficiency measures a key part of its efforts to reduce emissions and dependence on fossil fuels. Under Washington’s updated energy code that will take effect in July 2023, new commercial buildings – including multifamily residential buildings four stories and taller – will be built with high-efficiency electric heat pumps for water and space heating.
In just a few years, hydrogen has shot into mainstream conversations about tackling the climate crisis. It is now one of the most hotly discussed energy topics, and a very particular form of hydrogen known as fossil hydrogen (or 'blue hydrogen’) is being pushed by the fossil fuel industry for government backing. They claim it is climate friendly and can help with efforts to decarbonize our energy system, as it involves the use of carbon capture technology to trap and store emissions. One of the very few plants of this type, “Quest” is owned by Shell in Alberta, Canada. Shell have boasted about the project as an example of how it is tackling global heating, claiming that the project demonstrates that carbon capture systems are “safe and effective” and is a “thriving example” of how this technology can significantly reduce carbon emissions.
Many climate advocates and vulnerable nations entered this year’s conference hoping to address an enduring failure of the Paris Agreement, which said nothing about fossil fuels. But a draft agreement released on Saturday included only one reference, calling on parties to accelerate phasing out “unabated” coal consumption and “inefficient” subsidies for fossil fuels more broadly. Explicit references to oil and gas were absent.
Last year, President Xi Jinping, pledged that China’s CO2 emissions would peak before 2030, and China would become carbon neutral before 2060. China has a track history of setting ambitious, nearly impossible goals and then achieving them--often before deadline--so this pledge is significant. Under the CPC, China has already created “an economic miracle” in transforming China into the largest economy in the world. It ended extreme poverty while creating the largest middle class in the world. It has virtually eradicated Covid through non-pharmaceutical methods, while vaccinating up to 20 million people daily, and pledging the largest number of vaccines (2.2 Billion) and distributing over 1 Billion-to the rest of the world.
Climate change leadership requires more than stirring speeches. It means facing up to hard truths. One truth that governments around the world are struggling with is the immense contribution their militaries are making to the climate crisis. For example, the US Department of Defense is the largest institutional consumer of fossil fuels in the world – and the largest institutional emitter. Two of us worked on a 2019 study which showed that if the US military were a country, its fuel usage alone would make it the 47th largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, sitting between Peru and Portugal. In other words, the US military is a more consequential climate actor than many of the industrialised countries gathered at the COP26 summit in Glasgow.
Climate activists will target 10 UK airports this weekend to protest proposed expansion. Campaigners are planning to protest at Bristol, Doncaster-Sheffield, Gatwick, Glasgow, Leeds-Bradford, London-City, Luton, Liverpool, Manchester and Southampton airports from 11am on Saturday. The action has been organised by Stay Grounded – a global network of more than 160 member organisations promoting alternatives to aviation to address climate change – as part of the COP26 Coalition Global Action Days, and is calling for the halt of airport expansion and for an end to the “greenwashing” of aviation. Recommendations from the government advisory body the Climate Change Committee (CCC) stipulate that there should be no further expansion of airport capacity in the UK if the country is to meet its emissions targets.
Bennington, VT - Plastics are on track to contribute more climate change emissions than coal plants by 2030, a new report finds. As fossil fuel companies seek to recoup falling profits, they are increasing plastics production and cancelling out greenhouse gas reductions gained from the recent closures of 65 percent of the country’s coal-fired power plants. The New Coal: Plastics and Climate Change by Beyond Plastics at Bennington College analyzes never-before-compiled data of ten stages of plastics production, usage, and disposal and finds that the U.S. plastics industry is releasing at least 232 million tons of greenhouse gases each year, the equivalent of 116 average-sized coal-fired power plants. And that number is growing quickly.
Bemidji, Minnesota — The Indigenous Environmental Network and Oil Change International are releasing a new report titled Indigenous Resistance Against Carbon. The report analyzes the impact that Indigenous resistance to fossil fuel projects in the United States and Canada has had on greenhouse gas emissions over the past 10 years. From the struggle against the Cherry Point coal export terminal in Lummi territory to fights against pipelines crossing critical waterways, Indigenous land defenders have exercised their rights and responsibilities to not only stop fossil fuel projects in their tracks, but establish precedents to build successful social justice movements. The new report shows that Indigenous communities resisting the more than 20 fossil fuel projects analyzed have stopped or delayed greenhouse gas pollution equivalent to at least 25 percent of annual U.S. and Canadian emissions.
Over the last several years researchers have said that the Amazon is on the verge of transforming from a crucial storehouse for heat-trapping gasses to a source of them, a dangerous shift that could destabilize the atmosphere of the planet. Now, after years of painstaking and inventive research, they have definitively measured that shift. In a study published Wednesday in Nature, a team of researchers led by scientists from the Brazilian National Institute for Space Research, reported results from measuring carbon concentrations in columns of air above the Amazon. They found that the massive continental-size swath of tropical forest is releasing more carbon dioxide than it accumulates or stores, thanks to deforestation and fires. “There is no doubt that the Amazon is a source,” said Luciana Gatti, the lead author of the study.