Cop 26 Un Climate Conf

COP 26: What was accomplished?

In what many consider COP 26 as humanity’s moment for world leaders to correct a dangerous planetary course, national climate pledges are too weak to avoid catastrophic global warming. Most countries are on track to miss them anyway.  The global effort to combat climate change boils down to this: Moving forward; or business-as usual and damn the consequences.

The in-depth study published earlier this week by the Center for International Climate Research (Cicero), concluded temperature outcomes based on countries’ climate pledges were full of uncertainties. Using data on goals set about a year ago, the world now is on a trajectory to warm anywhere between 1.7°C and 3.8°C by 2100 compared with pre-industrial levels. Other analyses that used the most recent data from COP26 came to similar conclusions.


In face of this facts and scientific conclusions,  how much did the world accomplish at the Glasgow climate talks – and what happens now?  The answer depends in large part on where you live.

In Pacific island nations that are losing their homes to sea level rise, and in other highly vulnerable countries, there were bitter pills to swallow after global commitments to cut emissions fell far short of the goal to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7°F).

Hawaii is far from exempt from climate consequences with the state’s major airports and ports at sea level, both representing the state’s connection to the outside world and its supply chain dependencies.

For large middle-income countries, like India and South Africa, there were signs of progress on investments needed for developing clean energy.

In the developed world, countries still have to internalize, politically, that bills are coming due – both at home and abroad – after decades of delaying action on climate change. The longer the delay, the more difficult the transition will be.

There were also signs of hope as coalitions of companies, governments and civil society and indigenous peoples groups forced progress on issues such as stopping deforestationcutting methaneending coal use and boosting zero-emissions vehicles. Now, those promises must be acted upon.

Here are five key elements to watch over the coming year as countries move forward on their promises.

Bending the curve to 1.5°C

Cop 26 Climate Temp GraphGoing into the Glasgow summit, countries’ commitments had put the world on a trajectory of warming about 2.9°C this century, well beyond the 1.5°C goal and into levels of warming that will bring dangerous climate impacts. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement in the first days (much to the surprise of Indian observers) that India would reach net zero emissions by 2070 and generate 50% of its energy from renewables by 2030 helped lower that trajectory to 2.4°C.

Countries agreed to return for the next round of climate talks in November 2022 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, with stronger commitments to put the world on track for 1.5°C.

U.S. Talking Points

That turns the spotlight back on national action. China reminded everyone, while throwing shade at the U.S., that goals must be backed with plans for implementation. U.S. Cabinet members and Congressional leaders had much to say in Glasgow about being “back,” after the previous administration withdrew from the Paris climate agreement. Yet they had little to offer in terms of the U.S. share of the finance, and the world cast a worried eye over its continued partisan politics.

Deals Done

While all countries are important for reaching the world’s climate goals, some are more important than others.

Countries that are high emitters and heavily dependent on coal will be a focus of international attention in the coming months, not just to phase down coal but importantly to fund a just transition to green sources of energy and the necessary electricity infrastructure.

The poster child for this approach is South Africa, where a presidential commission has worked for three years to develop a just transition plan and has been able to attract US$8.5 billion from the U.K., the EU, the U.S. and others to help them execute on it. That, coupled with guarantees and other financial aid that could help draw further private investment, could become a replicable model.

The key was national ownership. In the year ahead, look for plans to come together in Indonesia and Vietnam and other countries needing to fast forward away from coal.

Follow the Money

In the first week of Glasgow, the titans of the financial industry heralded the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero – the commitment by financial institutions representing $130 trillion in assets to accelerate the transition to a net-zero emissions economy. The shifts within financial markets away from exposure to carbon emissions was palpable. But without more detail, the announcement attracted cries of “greenwashing.”

Throughout Glasgow’s conference halls, officials complained that finance wasn’t flowing to help them succeed.

This isn’t just a climate finance problem. Many countries are also facing economic disruption from the COVID-19 pandemic and have chafed at the way international financial institutions fail to address issues of access to finance and trade. Advanced economies didn’t come to Glasgow ready to provide even the $100 billion a year in finance promised a decade ago, which shrank the landing zone for agreement on all issues.

The Chinese calculate the value of growth lost through a few measures, such as floods and heat. Unsurprisingly it amounts to trillions of dollars. It may be a useful exercise whenever a government balks at the “cost” of climate action.

In the end, governments agreed to reach the $100 billion annual climate finance target within the next two years and agreed that adaptation funding should double. But with the U.N. Environment Program estimating that adaptation funds will need to quadruple by 2030 from today’s $70 billion, there’s a long way to go.

Climate action is a three-legged stool – mitigation, adaptation, loss and damage.

Loss and damage was mentioned an unprecedented 12 times in the final Glasgow texts, but without commitments to funding or mechanisms to secure funding. Loss and damage, or reparations, can be understood this way: you broke it (or endangered it), you pay for it. But, afraid of lawsuits in international courts – which the U.S. does not belong to – or afraid of the costs, developed countries have opposed progress on the issue in recent years.

Developing countries left Glasgow disappointed, but there was no escaping the debate. Although a wonky subject for climate change watchers, future progress is needed towards establishing a global mechanism to help pay for climate-induced losses and damages. With the next year’s U.N. climate conference will be held in Africa, the subject will then likely move to center stage on go-forward agreements between developing and developed countries.


.. recommended additional reading: COP26 — Success or Failure?

E Plane1

Going All Electric Takes Flight, and breaks speed record

Just two months after its maiden flight, Rolls-Royce’s “Spirit of Innovation” has hit a top speed of 387.4 MPH, tentatively smashing the speed record for electric airplanes.

It also claimed the top speed of 345.4 MPH over a 3 kilometer (1.86 mile) course and lowest time to a 3,000 meter (9,843 feet) altitude (202 seconds). The records have yet to be certified, but if the 345.5 MPH speed stands, it would beat the current record of 213 MPH — held by a Siemens-powered Extra 330LE — by an impressive 132 MPH.

Rolls-Royce (the aviation, not the car company), conducted the tests on November 16th. To have the records certified, it’s submitting the trials to the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), the body in charge of world aviation records. If confirmed, the speeds would be pretty impressive considering that the plane only made its maiden flight in September — suggesting that with more time, it could go even faster.

The Spirit of Innovation is an old-school “tail-dragger” airplane (steering at the rear) with the canopy pushed way back, and looks as fast as it goes. It’s powered by a 400 kW (535 HP), 750 volt motor. Rolls-Royce said it uses the “most power-dense propulsion battery pack ever assembled in aerospace,” with 6,480 cells.

Presently, electric airplanes aren’t yet full practical in terms of range, since current batteries are 50 times less energy dense than jet fuel.  Their introduction holds great promise for shorter commuter  runs, of less than two hours flying time, ideal of Hawaii’s interisland air routes. And unlike non-turbocharged ICE engines, electric motors retain full power as an airplane climbs, making them ideal for time-to-altitude record attempts — as the Spirit of Innovation has just shown.

Other E-Plane Examples

For $140,000, you can fly your own electric airplane. The Slovenian company Pipistrel sells the Alpha Electro, the first electric aircraft certified as airworthy by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in 2018. It’s a welterweight at just 811 pounds (368 kilograms), powered by a 21 kWh battery pack—about one-fifth the power of what you’d find in a Tesla Model S. For about 90 minutes, the pilot training plane will keep you and a companion aloft without burning a drop of fossil fuel.

Those of us without a pilot license will have to wait longer for emissions-free flight—but not much. For all its challenges, 2020 has proven to be a milestone year for electric aviation. Electric aircraft set new distance records, replicated short commercial flight paths, won over the US military, and attracted buyers from big airlines.

And in June, European regulators granted another of Pipistrel’s aircraft, the Velis Electro, the world’s first electric “type certification,” deeming the entire aircraft design safe and ready for mass production (airworthiness only certifies individual aircraft).  Much more is coming. Within two years, you’ll be able to watch Air Race E, a circuit that pits eight electric-powered airplanes against each other, zooming just 32 feet (10 meters) off the ground at 280 mph (450 kph). Electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) leaders Archer, Joby, and Beta are reading their battery-powered flights on the question for certification.

Half of all global flights are shorter than 500 miles. That’s the sweet spot for electric aircraft. Fewer moving parts, less maintenance, and cheap(er) electricity means costs may fall by more than half to about $150 per hour (smaller airplanes like Pipistrel’s cost just a few dollars). For airlines, this makes entirely new routes now covered by car and train possible (and profitable) thanks to lower fuel, maintenance, and labor costs.

Electric propulsion nearly solves another problem for aviation: carbon emissions. Aviation emits more than 2% of the world’s CO2 emissions, and it may reach nearly a quarter by mid-century. With no alternative fuel ready to leave the ground, and the number of air passengers set to double by 2035, electricity may offer the industry its best way forward in a climate-constrained world.

 

Methane Flare Off

Fossil Fuel Propaganda and Lobbying, So Far Successful

(newly updated, originally published October 30th)

ExxonMobil and Chevron are the world’s most obstructive organizations when it comes to governments setting climate policies, according to research into the “prolific and highly sophisticated” lobbying ploys used by the fossil fuel industry.

The biggest US oil companies, as well as American Petroleum Institute, a lobby group, were found to be the worst offenders in a global report by lobbying experts at the thinktank InfluenceMap. It concluded that companies were manipulating governments to take “incredibly dangerous paths” in their approach to climate action.

Oil giants have mounted “intense resistance” to Joe Biden’s green agenda, according to the report, as the US president’s administration attempted to shift the country away from fossil fuels.

The report was published on Thursday before talks at the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow to accelerate the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy. It also came a week after ExxonMobil’s chief executive, Darren Woods, was accused of lying to the US Congress when he denied that the company had covered up its own research about oil’s contribution to the climate crisis.

The report said corporate lobbying tactics in part explained why regulators in some countries such as Australia have struggled to build support for more ambitious climate policy in the lead-up to Cop26 and were increasingly viewed as “a road block in global negotiations”.


The United Nations COP26 summit is bringing fresh scrutiny to the spread of misleading climate information online, with critics of social media giants like Facebook unleashing a wave of studies they say show companies are amplifying and profiting off climate change denial.

On Tuesday, the nonprofit Center for Countering Digital Hate(CCDH) released a report that found a small group of publishers plays an oversized role in pushing content on Facebook that undermines climate science, including the far-right website Breitbart.

And on Thursday, the “Stop Funding Heat” campaign is unveiling a new study they claim “shows Facebook’s climate misinformation problem is not only bigger than the company suggests, but that it stands to get even worse.” 

The group said it found at least 113 ads on Facebook between January and mid-October that misrepresented or undermined climate science, and estimated based on how frequently users interacted with the messages that they had been seen millions of times. And they found that a sample of 41 pages and groups that they identified as frequent posters of climate misinformation saw user engagements rise substantially from earlier this year.

The actions arrive as global leaders including President Biden gather in Glasgow, Scotland, to hash out their plans to slow climate change, and as lawmakers on Capitol Hill consider climate provisions in their reconciliation talks.

Climate misinformation was also a focus during a high-profile hearing with CEOs from top fossil fuel companies last week, where Democratic lawmakers grilled the executives about their messaging on social media platforms.

During one exchange, Rep. Sean Casten (D-Ill.) questioned ExxonMobil CEO Darren Woods about a reported uptick in their spending on Facebook ads since June, while lawmakers on Capitol Hill have considered major funding boosts for climate initiatives.

Casten asked why the company would suddenly spend more on “a platform that’s designed to amplify disinformation.” Woods said at the time that he did not have the spending data available.

In anticipation of the COP26 summit, which began Sunday and runs through Nov. 12, social media companies, including Facebook and Twitter, announced new initiatives aimed at curbing misinformation and surfacing authoritative news about climate change. 

Facebook global affairs chief Nick Clegg said the company planned to expand its hub for “factual resources” on climate change to more than 100 countries and increase the number of countries in which they apply informational labels to posts on climate, doubling them from eight to 16.
Twitter, meanwhile, unveiled a plan to “pre-bunk” climate misinformation by directing users to online hubs containing “credible, authoritative information” on the topic that will appear across several of the platform’s features.

A YouGOV poll revealed this week that 60% of Americans say oil firms are to blame for the climate crisis.

Yet, in light of the evidence presented before a House congressional hearing last week, culminating in overwhelming evidence that fossil fuel companies participated in a decades long coverup of the facts as to the dangers of Global Warming, 40% of Americans are apparently ready to give the fossil fuel industry a pass; ignoring the evidence linking fossil extraction, production, and consumption to an unregulated global experiment in hubris and global climate modification.

Cliimate Poll 1

In fact, even when it was revealed that oil and gas companies knowingly misled the public about their products which are driving climate change, most Republicans in the national poll said the public and the government should not hold those companies accountable.  At the same time, nearly two in three Republicans believe oil and gas companies are at least somewhat responsible for the climate crisis.

The poll findings suggest that much of the marketing campaigns that fossil fuel companies have released to paint themselves in a positive light have worked.

Big oil has bankrolled multimillion-dollar campaigns for decades which downplay the climate crisis and were designed to misled the public with misinformation campaigns and tactics, that included rebranding the scientific description of fossil fuel impacts on the environment from “Global Warming” to “Climate Change”, primarily because the term was less alarming to the public, previously validated through Big Oil financed focus groups. Repositioning reality, Big Oil for decades convinced a large segment of the public and policy makers that Global Warming was only a theory, not based in scientific fact. The same companies financing the media influence campaigns, knew better, as their own internal scientific studies continue to provide alarming evidence and conclusions linking fossil fuel emissions directly to global warming.

The same poll suggests the industry’s media efforts were especially effective with Republican voters, who were heavily influenced by misleading anti-science climate stories promoted through extreme conservative channels, e.g. Fox News and Newsmax.

Big Oil’s Message Contradicts its Own Research

The fossil fuel majors Exxon, BP, Shell message strategy was simple enough, change the narrative from Big Oil to individuals who are responsible for climate change, not corporations invested in fossil fuels.  The poll revealed these media efforts were and are working – even with Democrats.  The idea of a “carbon footprint” was introduced by fossil fuel companies to encourage individuals to reduce their emissions, and framed Earth’s runaway emissions as a problem that can be changed simply by changing consumer habits. But consumers are only a small part of the problem, rather, it is the dirty energy economy upon which the world depends which must change in order for the world to successfully mitigate the worst effects of a century of ever increasing global warming emissions on the climate.

Cliamte Poll 3For decades oil and gas companies ignored their own scientists who told them their products were harmful to people and the environment as early as the 1970s.

As early as 1958, the oil industry was hiring scientists and engineers to research the role that burning fossil fuels plays in global warming. The goal at the time was to help the major oil conglomerates understand how changes in the Earth’s atmosphere may affect the industry – and their bottom line. But what top executives gained was an early preview of the climate crisis, decades before the issue reached public consciousness.

What those scientists discovered – and what the oil companies did with that information – is at the heart of two dozen lawsuits attempting to hold the fossil fuel industry responsible for their role in climate change.

Many of those cases hinge on the industry’s own internal documents that show how, 40 years ago, researchers predicted the rising global temperatures with stunning accuracy.

ClientEarth lodged a complaint in 2019 alleging that BP’s advertising campaigns had misled the public by focusing on the company’s low carbon energy products, when more than 96% of its annual spend was on oil and gas. BP withdrew the ads before the complaint was assessed. ClientEarth said it was now putting other fossil fuel companies on notice over greenwashing adverts.

“We’re currently witnessing a great deception, where the companies most responsible for catastrophically heating the planet are spending millions on advertising campaigns about how their business plans are focused on sustainability,” said Johnny White, one of ClientEarth’s lawyers.   “We need to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, but instead of leading a low-carbon transition, these companies are putting out advertising which distracts the public and launders their image. Our research shows these adverts are misrepresenting the true nature of fossil fuel companies’ businesses, of their contribution to climate change, and of their transition plans.”

Big Oil’s Scientific Findings on Global Warming Were Correct

Dr Martin Hoffert, 83, physicist and Exxon consultant from 1981 to 1987, put it this way.  “When I started consulting for Exxon, I had already begun to understand that the Earth’s climate would be affected by carbon dioxide. There were only a small number of people in the world who were actively working on this problem because the global warming signal had not yet manifested itself in the data.

We were doing very good work at Exxon. We had eight scientific papers published in peer-reviewed journals, including a prediction of how much global warming from carbon dioxide buildup would be 40 years later.

We made a prediction in 1980 of what the atmospheric warming would be from fossil fuel burning in 2020. We predicted that it would be about one degree celsius. And it turned out to about one and half degrees celsius.

It never actually occurred to me that this was going to become a political problem. I thought: “We’ll do the analyses, we’ll write reports, the politicians of the world will see the reports and they’ll make the appropriate changes and transform our energy system somehow.”

I’m a research scientist. In my field, if you discover something and it turns out to be valid, you’re a hero. I didn’t realize how hard it would be to convince people, even when they saw objective evidence of this happening.

The Big Oil Justifies its Decades Old Campaign of Hiding the Truth

In a covert recording released by Greenpeace earlier this year, the Exxon lobbyist Keith McCoy is heard on camera saying the company is actively fighting the Biden administration’s efforts on climate change, and admits that Exxon pushed back against climate science.

“Did we aggressively fight against some of the science? Yes. Did we hide our science? Absolutely not. Did we join some of these shadow groups to work against some of the early efforts? Yes, that’s true. But there’s nothing, there’s nothing illegal about that,” he says in the recording. “We were looking out for our investments. We were looking out for our shareholders.”

Ff Pollution

White House, intelligence agencies, Pentagon warn…”Climate Change threatens global security”

As the United States and nations around the world struggle to blunt the effects of rising temperatures and extreme weather, sweeping assessments released Thursday by the White House, the U.S. intelligence community and the Pentagon conclude that climate change will exacerbate long-standing threats to global security.

Together, the reports show a deepening concern within the U.S. security establishment that the shifts unleashed by climate change can reshape U.S. strategic interests, offer new opportunities to rivals such as China, and increase instability in nuclear states such as North Korea and Pakistan. The reports emerge as world leaders prepare to gather in Glasgow next month for crucial U.N. climate talks.

And they suggest that the Biden administration is preparing to take on the national security consequences of global warming after four years of inaction under former president Donald Trump. During his presidency, climate-related security assessments were routinely suppressed because they did not match his administration’s skeptical stance toward climate science.

Shortly after President Biden came to office, he ordered that climate change play a far more prominent role in U.S. security strategy.

Climate Security ThreatNow U.S. climate strategists are roaring to the forefront. The Pentagon report in particular marks a change in how the U.S. military establishment is incorporating climate issues into its security strategy, analysts said. Until now, when the Defense Department has considered climate change, it has tended to focus on how floods and extreme heat can affect military readiness rather than the broader geopolitical consequences of a warming world. Now it is worried climate change could lead to state failure.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin came right to the point:

“Climate Change is altering the strategic landscape and shaping the security environment, posing complex threats to the United States and nations around the world.”

“To deter war and protect our country, the [Defense] Department must understand the ways climate change affects missions, plans, and capabilities.”

The new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on climate, a first-of-its kind document by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, builds on other grim warnings from national security officials about how a changing climate could upend societies and topple governments.

“We assess that climate change will increasingly exacerbate risks to U.S. national security interests as the physical impacts increase and geopolitical tensions mount about how to respond to the challenge,” the document states. It also concludes that while momentum to reduce global emissions of greenhouse gases is growing, “current policies and pledges are insufficient” to meet the goals that countries laid out in the landmark Paris climate accord.

“This NIE warning represents a valuable iteration on findings from past intelligence assessments,” said Rod Schoonover, who was the director of environment and natural resources at the National Intelligence Council in the Obama and Trump administrations.  “However, the report lacks a singular top-line statement that adequately conveys the seriousness and immediacy of the multifactorial risks associated with ongoing climate-linked stresses, and humanity’s tendency to increase its own vulnerability to these stresses.”

The Prospects for a Global Accord addressing Climate Change threats

The NIE offers a dim assessment of the prospects for unified international action as countries argue over who should act sooner, compete for control and economic advantage in attempts to come together in a global clean energy transition. Most countries face difficult economic choices and count on technological breakthroughs to rapidly reduce their net emissions at some future date while continuing with business-as-usual.

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President Biden’s Climate Agenda is in Jeopardy, and that’s bad news for Hawaii’s clean energy reforms 

Manchin Tells Biden He Strongly Opposes Clean Energy Legislation –

The most powerful part of President Biden’s climate agenda — a program to rapidly replace the nation’s coal- and gas-fired power plants with wind, solar and nuclear energy — will likely be dropped from the massive budget bill pending in Congress, according to congressional staffers and lobbyists.

Senator Manchin, a Democrat from coal-rich West Virginia and operates more like a Coal industry lobbyist than the Democratic senator he is.  Manchin’s personal holdings in coal stocks and other coal-supported investments are estimated at several million dollars. Manchin’s vote in an evenly divided Senate, is a deal breaker. By holding the one vote Democratic majority hostage, there now appears little hope for meaningful national energy reform. Manchin told the White House that he strongly opposes the Clean (energy) Electricity Performance Program.

The West Virginia Democrat told the White House he is firmly against the Clean Electricity Performance Program (CEPP),the cornerstone of the president’s plan to battle Climate Change.  The CEPP, is the climate policy component of the Democrats’ massive infrastructure and social safety net package, now expected to be dropped from the final budget deal after pushback from Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia. “He is not there on the CEPP period. We’ve been trying,” one Democratic aide said with knowledge of the negotiations. Biden and the Democrats are trying to find ways to restructure the program to fit Manchin’s concerns while still reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The latest IPCC UN report on global warming, released in August, concluded that countries must immediately shift away from burning fossil fuels in order to avoid a future of severe drought, intense heat waves, water shortages, devastating storms, rising seas and ecosystem collapse. Gw Graphic Outlook

Common sense and self-preservation should produce at least one or two Republican votes of support needed to cancel out Manchin’s opposition, in an acknowledgement of the science-driven Biden climate agenda after decades of obstruction and reality denial.

Apparently not. Fossil fuel money (courtesy $5.9 trillion in annual global taxpayer subsidies), has greased the skids, enabling fossil fuel stakeholders to continue with business as usual until it’s over. And over is a reality coming much faster than most people and politicians are willing to recognize or accept.

Manchin is not alone, no single Republican has offered public support for the corner stone of Administration’s Climate-essential legislation scientists say is essential in addressing the impacts of global climate change, now occurring. West Virginia’s other senator, Republican Shelley Moore Capito, said she was “vehemently opposed” to the clean electricity program (CEPP) because it is “designed to ultimately eliminate coal.

Experts have said that the policy over the next decade would drastically reduce the greenhouse gases that are heating the planet and that it would be the strongest climate change policy ever enacted by the United States.

“This is absolutely the most important climate policy in the package,” said Leah Stokes, an expert on climate policy, who has been advising Senate Democrats on how to craft the program. “We fundamentally need it to meet our climate goals. That’s just the reality we face, and consequences of inaction are unthinkable..”

Consequences of Coal’s Political Clout & Hubris

Democrats are preparing for the likely demise of the Clean Electricity Performance Program (CEPP), which would reward utilities that deploy more clean energy while penalizing those that don’t. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), said Tuesday that the CEPP “is challenging” and that she had been checking with the measure’s main author, Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.), “every couple hours” on a substitute “that still brings down carbon emissions.

If the CEPP is dropped from the spending package, Democrats will have to find another way to meet Biden’s overarching goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 50 to 52 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi scheduled a caucus meeting for Wednesday at 9 a.m. ET as Democrats try to make progress in negotiations on their sprawling economic package, which aims to expand education, healthcare and childcare support, according to a lawmaker who received the release.

The rest of the world remains deeply wary of America’s commitment to tackling global warming after four years in which former President Donald J. Trump openly mocked the science of climate change and enacted policies that encouraged more drilling and burning of fossil fuels.

For weeks, Democratic leaders have vowed that the clean electricity program was a nonnegotiable part of the legislation. Progressive Democrats held rallies chanting “No climate, no deal!”

No Republican Senator, including Republican senators from states without coal and fossil fuel extraction industries have remained absent without leave from the Build Better legislative negotiations and their support in advancing critical climate actions.

A major scientific report released in August concluded that countries must immediately shift away from burning fossil fuels in order to avoid a future of severe drought, intense heat waves, water shortages, devastating storms, rising seas and ecosystem collapse. To avert catastrophe, scientists say nations must keep the average global temperature from increasing 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. But as countries continue to pump carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the average global temperature has already risen by about 1.1 degrees Celsius.

Crucial U.N. climate talks (COP 26) next month could end short of the global target for cutting coal, gas and oil emissions, U.S. climate envoy John Kerry says, after nearly a year of climate diplomacy that helped win deeper cuts from allies but has so far failed to move some of the world’s biggest polluters to act fast enough.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Kerry credited the United States, the European Union, Japan and others that over the past year have pledged bigger, faster cuts in climate-wrecking fossil fuel emissions ahead of the talks in Glasgow, Scotland, under nudging from Kerry and the Biden administration. He expressed hope enough nations would join in over the next couple of years. “By the time Glasgow’s over, we’re going to know who is doing their fair share, and who isn’t,” he said.

 

Super Storm

La Niña Is Back; what that may or may not mean for Hawaii

After a months-long tug-of-war and relative atmospheric balance between El Niño and La Niña, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Thursday that La Niña is the winner, has returned to Hawaii, and is expected to stick around through the winter and into next year.

El Niño and La Niña reflect the two end points of an oscillation cycle in the Pacific Ocean. The cycle is not fully understood, but tends to swing back and forth every 3-7 years, for Hawaii and the world, it’s now La Niña’s turn.

La Niña is defined as cooler than normal sea-surface temperatures in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean that impact global weather patterns. La Niña has the opposite effect of its hotter cousin, El Niño.  The atmosphere cools in response to the cold ocean surface, and less water evaporates. The cooler, dry air is dense. It doesn’t rise or generally form extreme storms. As a result, less rain falls over the eastern Pacific. Ecuador, Peru, and the southeastern United States are correspondingly dry.

During a La Niña cycle, such winter storms tend to be less frequent, and bad news for California and the West in general, now experiencing an extended period of extreme drought conditions producing serious agricultural and economic ramifications extending far the borders of the directly affected states.

Historically, Hawaii could expect more consistent rainfall during a La Niña cycle, but that may changing.


How Hawaii May No longer Benefit from La Nina’s Generous Rainfall

Scientists at UH Mānoa report that during La Niña events rainfall has historically been greater than normal – building up Hawai‘i’s groundwater supplies.

La Nina MapHowever, recent research by scientists at UH Manoa, Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology, and NOAA’s Honolulu National Weather Service (NWS) Office determined that the relationship between La Niña and rainfall in Hawai‘i has changed and recent La Niña years have in fact brought less-than-normal rainfall.

Because the La Niña events have traditionally brought excess rainfall to the state, the new information indicates decreased rainfall during La Niña may be the new norm, with significant implications for Hawaii’s agriculture, and the stat’s water resource management priorities.

Confusion persists in today’s local press, citing…

As reported in the today’s edition of the West Hawaii Today; citing local NOAA officials “…by the time we get into January, the model forecasts are looking at large-scale wetter-than-normal conditions across the Hawaiian Islands area, and that will last into April”.

Today’s report and prediction of a wetter directly contradict previous research reporting on scientists at UH Manoa, Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology, and NOAA’s Honolulu National Weather Service (NWS) Office who have determined that the relationship between La Niña and rainfall in Hawai‘i has changed and recent La Niña years have in fact brought less-than-normal rainfall.

The scientists also reported a strengthening, broadening and westward shifting of the eastern North Pacific subtropicalHawaii Drought Map 2021 high-pressure system, coupled to an intensification of the subtropical jet stream – in short: “reducing rainfall during the recent La Niña seasons.”

Additionally, assessing storm-track data revealed that the changes found in the aforementioned circulation features created a less favorable environment for the development of Kona low-pressure systems and fronts in the vicinity of Hawai‘i.  Variability in tropical sea surface temperatures and circulation features in the northern Pacific Ocean have also changed during La Niña wet seasons – further forcing the changes in La Niña-year rainfall.


How La Niña can affect Pacific Ocean Food Webs?

During La Niña, waters off the Pacific Coast are colder and contain more nutrients than usual.

Phytoplankton SlideAny change in phytoplankton numbers alters the ocean food chain. … During La Niña conditions as in 1998, the opposite effect occurs as the easterly trade winds pick up and upwelling intensifies bringing nutrients like iron to the surface waters, which increases phytoplankton growth, which is good for the fish and fishing.

La Niña begins with a cooling of waters in the eastern tropical Pacific. The basin alternates between El Niño and La Niña every two to seven years on average. That pocket of cooler ocean water chills the air above it, inducing a broad sinking motion. It’s that subsidence, or down-welling of cool air, that topples the first atmospheric domino.

During La Niña winters, high pressure near the Aleutian chain shoves the polar jet stream north over Alaska, maintaining an active storm track there. The Last Frontier often ends up cooler than average. The confluence of the polar and Pacific jet streams, as shown in the image above, helps drag some of that cold air across the Pacific Northwest and adjacent parts of the northern Plains.

That keeps the northern United States anomalously wet, while the South is left largely warm and dry. This is bad news for California and other parts of the Southwest, which are enduring a historic drought. The persistence of warm, dry conditions would cause the drought to worsen and potentially prolong the fire season.


Winter forecasts improve, as the climate-weather science connect 

There is evidence that the record-shattering cold blast of February that wrought havoc on Texas’s electrical grid was by-product of an impressive atmospheric feature of the La Niña effect which historically has been the formation of a ridge of high pressure over Eastern Canada which acts an immovable barrier to the jet stream, keeping it parked over Eastern Canada for much of the winter. Where that block relocates will potentially be critical to how winter begins and may even set the tone for the winter.

The behavior of the polar vortex, the zone of frigid air surrounding the Arctic, will also play a crucial role.  It’s been showing signs of weakening or becoming more unstable as 21st century Climate Change dynamics take hold.

A weak, unstable vortex is more prone to unleashing frigid air over the Lower 48, compared with one that is strong and stable and that tends to lock up cold over the high latitudes.  “Once the polar vortex weakens, it could be predisposed to further weakening in the coming weeks or months resulting in a more severe (mainland) winter”, according the National Weather Service.

 

 

Pv To Ev

It’s Not All Bad News in the Fight to Slow Global Warming

Clean energy technologies such as wind turbines, solar panels and electric vehicles are advancing so rapidly that the global use of fossil fuels is now expected to peak by the mid-2020s and then start declining, the world’s leading energy agency said Tuesday.

But there’s a catch: The transition away from coal, oil and natural gas still isn’t happening fast enough to avoid dangerous levels of global warming, the agency said, at least not unless governments take much stronger action to reduce their planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions over the next few years.

The International Energy Agency’s annual World Energy Outlook, a 386-page report that forecasts global energy trends to 2050, comes just weeks before world leaders gather for a major United Nations climate summit in Glasgow to discuss how to accelerate the shift away from fossil fuels and prevent the planet from overheating.

Wind Solar“The world has made a remarkable amount of progress on clean energy over the past decade,” Fatih Birol, the agency’s executive director, said in an interview. “But there’s still so much more that needs to happen.”

The new report finds that the world has made significant strides in the fight against climate change. Wind and solar power are now the cheapest source of new electricity in most markets and growing briskly. Sales of electric vehicles worldwide hit records last year. Across the globe, approvals for new coal-fired power plants, a major source of emissions, have slowed dramatically in recent years, as governments and banks have increasingly refused to finance them.

Governments are also stepping up their policies to curb emissions. The European Union has been increasing the price it charges large polluters to emit carbon dioxide. India has ratcheted up efficiency standards for new air-conditioners. China has said it would stop financing new coal plants overseas.

As a result, the International Energy Agency now projects that humanity’s emissions of carbon dioxide will reach a peak by the mid-2020s and then drop slowly in the decades thereafter. Global coal use is expected to fall between now and 2050, despite an uptick this year driven by increased industrial activity in China, while global oil demand is expected to enter into permanent decline by the 2030s, as people switch to electricity to fuel their cars.

That alone would be a remarkable shift. Ever since World War II, global carbon dioxide emissions have been on a seemingly inexorable upward trajectory, with only temporary dips during recessions, as the world relied on ever greater quantities of fossil fuels to power homes, cars and factories. A turning point is now in sight, the report says.

Cop 26 Un Climate Conf

Fossil Fuels Rule & Ruin

The Paris Agreement is a legally binding international treaty on Climate Change, adopted by 196 Countries and ratified at COP 21 in Paris on 12 December 2015.

Fast forward COP 26 (Nov. 2021), and these same participating countries are now returning to the table to do the hard work of determining how individual countries, and groups of countries working together, will fulfill their pledges to cut fossil fuel emissions — in UN speak, Nationally Determined Contributions or NDCs. There will be several attendees from Hawaii joining the conference in Glascow, Scotland, including Rep. Nicole Lowen, (State) House ChairCommittee on Energy and Environmental Protection.

COP 26 next month (with the United States now back in the Paris Agreement), will be an especially important event in terms of timing. America’s president and administration has welcomed science back (after a brief dark period in American policy) to have a seat at the table in guiding America’s priorities and further enabling the Paris Agreement climate goals.

In fact, a lot a has changed in the past 6 years since the Paris Agreement. For one, increasing global awareness as to human-induced Climate Change, no longer a legitimate debate topic, as a new climate reality is now demonstrating just how real climate change impacts have become a daily part of our lives — real and significant by any measurement. Even County’s like Russia and Saudi Arabia, regardless of the depth of their economic and political ties to fossil fuels, are not exempt from the social, environmental, and economic damage of a run away climate fueled by unprecedented rises in CO2 emissions and based on an unsustainable and obsolete global dirty energy economy.

BeyondKona is no stranger to Climate reporting, it makes up a core component of our publication.  We believe that recent events and the forthcoming COP26 global summit are sufficient justification for this special October edition dedicated to a Climate Change threat now affecting more than 85% of the world’s population, and most other life on Earth.

In this special Climate edition, we invited you to also visit the following special report attachments:


Fossil fuels received $5.9 trillion worldwide subsidies last year

A 2016 in depth study jointly performed by the World Bank and IMF revealed what many people already suspected, the fossil fuel stakeholders are the most heavily taxpayer subsidized industrial sector in the world, to the turn of $5.4 trillion USD annually.

Not included in the 2016 IMF/World Bank study, but acknowledged, was the study’s omission of externality costs on society (health costs, deaths) and the damage to the global environment from an industry sector whose costs to world begin at extraction, but do not end at the tailpipe and smokestack.

Five years later, the IMF return to the public discussion of fossil fuel subsidies in a 2021 study finding that the public subsidization of the world’s most unsustainable industry, from polluter profits to human, environmental, climate costs was now, in annualized terms, equal to $11,000,000 USD every minute.

Yes, that right, $11 million USD a minute, or to put it another way, $183,333 per second in free money, taxpayer dollars that is, to the world’s most toxic industry.

Fossil Fuel Subsidies

The following Guardian article, published Oct. 6th, explores the trillions of dollars a year governments are adding to fuel to the fire of a human-induced global climate crisis, while at the same time, chasing solutions to halt a climate crisis so great it now threatens the very future of humankind and livability of planet Earth.



Fossil fuel industry gets subsidies of $11m a minute, IMF finds

from The Guardian, published Oct 6th, 2021

The fossil fuel industry benefits from subsidies of $11m every minute, according to analysis by the International Monetary Fund.

The IMF found the production and burning of coal, oil and gas was subsidized by $5.9tn in 2020, with not a single country pricing all its fuels sufficiently to reflect their full supply and environmental costs. Experts said the subsidies were “adding fuel to the fire” of the climate crisis, at a time when rapid reductions in carbon emissions were urgently needed.

Explicit subsidies that cut fuel prices accounted for 8% of the total and tax breaks another 6%. The biggest factors were failing to make polluters pay for the deaths and poor health caused by air pollution (42%) and for the heatwaves and other impacts of global heating (29%).

Setting fossil fuel prices that reflect their true cost would cut global CO2 emissions by over a third, the IMF analysts said. This would be a big step towards meeting the internationally agreed 1.5C target. Keeping this target within reach is a key goal of the UN Cop26 climate summit in November.

Agreeing rules for carbon markets, which enable the proper pricing of pollution, is another Cop26 goal. “Fossil fuel price reform could not be timelier,” the IMF researchers said. The ending of fossil fuel subsidies would also prevent nearly a million deaths a year from dirty air and raise trillions of dollars for governments, they said.

“There would be enormous benefits from reform, so there’s an enormous amount at stake,” said Ian Parry, the lead author of the IMF report. “Some countries are reluctant to raise energy prices because they think it will harm the poor. But holding down fossil fuel prices is a highly inefficient way to help the poor, because most of the benefits accrue to wealthier households. It would be better to target resources towards helping poor and vulnerable people directly.”

With 50 countries committed to net zero emissions by mid-century and more than 60 carbon pricing schemes around the world, there are some encouraging signs, Parry said: “But we’re still just scratching the surface really, and there’s an awful long way to go.”

The G20 agreed in 2009 to phase out “inefficient” fossil fuel subsidies and in 2016, the G7 set a deadline of 2025, but little progress has been made. In July, a report showed that the G20 countries had subsidised fossil fuels by trillions of dollars since 2015, the year the Paris climate deal was reached.

“To stabilise global temperatures we must urgently move away from fossil fuels instead of adding fuel to the fire,” said Mike Coffin, senior analyst at the thinktank Carbon Tracker. “It’s critical that governments stop propping up an industry that is in decline, and look to accelerate the low-carbon energy transition, and our future, instead.

“As host of Cop26, the UK government could play an important global leadership role by ending all subsidies for fossil fuels, as well as halting new North Sea licensing rounds,” he said. The International Energy Agency (IEA) said in May that the development of new oil and gas fields must stop this year to meet climate goals.

The comprehensive IMF report found that prices were at least 50% below their true costs for 99% of coal, 52% of diesel and 47% of natural gas in 2020. Five countries were responsible for two-thirds of the subsidies: China, the US, Russia, India and Japan. Without action, subsidies will rise to $6.4tn in 2025, the IMF said.

Proper pricing for fossil fuels would cut emissions by, for example, encouraging electricity generators to switch from coal to renewable energy and making electric cars an even cheaper option for motorists. International cooperation is important, Parry said, to allay fears that countries could lose competitiveness if their fossil fuel prices were higher.

“The IMF report is a sobering reading, pointing to one of the major defects of the global economy,” said Maria Pastukhova, at the thinktank e3g. “The IEA’s net-zero roadmap projects that $5tn is necessary by 2030 to put the world on the pathway to a climate-safe world. It is maddening to realize the much-needed change could start happening now, if not for governments’ entanglement with the fossil fuels industry in so many major economies.”

“Fossil fuel subsidies have been a major stumbling block in the G20 process for years,” she said. “Now all eyes are on the G20 leaders’ summit in late October.”

Ipek Gençsü, at the Overseas Development Institute, said: “[Subsidy reform] requires support for vulnerable consumers who will be impacted by rising costs, as well for workers in industries which simply have to shut down. It also requires information campaigns, showing how the savings will be redistributed to society in the form of healthcare, education and other social services. Many people oppose subsidy reform because they see it solely as governments taking something away, and not giving back.”

The G20 countries emit almost 80% of global greenhouse gases. More than 600 global companies in the We Mean Business coalition, including Unilever, Ikea, Aviva, Siemens and Volvo Cars, recently urged G20 leaders to end fossil fuel subsidies by 2025.

Cop 26 Un Climate Conf

A Climate Experiment Gone Wrong

The world has already heated up by around 1.2C, on average, since the preindustrial era, pushing humanity beyond almost all historical boundaries. Cranking up the temperature of the entire globe this much within little more than a century is, in fact, extraordinary, with the oceans alone absorbing the heat equivalent of five Hiroshima atomic bombs dropping into the water every second.

These temperature thresholds will again be the focus of upcoming UN climate talks at the COP26 summit in Scotland as countries variously dawdle or scramble to avert climate catastrophe. But the single digit numbers obscure huge ramifications at stake. “We have built a civilization based on a world that doesn’t exist anymore,” as Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist at Texas Tech University, puts it.

Until now, human civilization has operated within a narrow, stable band of temperature. Through the burning of fossil fuels, we have now unmoored ourselves from our past, as if we have transplanted ourselves onto another planet. The last time it was hotter than now was at least 125,000 years ago, while the atmosphere has more heat-trapping carbon dioxide in it than any time in the past two million years, perhaps more.

Global Temp Rise 2021 10

Coral Reefs

One of side effects of this unprecedented planet warming has been the world’s loss of 14 percent of the global coral reef cover, since 2009 — a global network of coral scientists and managers revealed in the first comprehensive update in 13 years on the status of threatened marine ecosystems.

The report, published Tuesday by the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network, compiled nearly 2 million observations collected by hundreds of scientists from 12,000 sites around the world. According to the report, following a 1998 bleaching event, coral cover declined by 8 percent, but by 2008, coral had recovered to its pre-1998 levels. In the following decade, however, 4,500 square miles of coral died, or about 14 percent of the world’s coral cover.

“This report confirms what those of us in the coral reef world know to be true, that coral reefs around the world are in big trouble,” said Madhavi Colton, executive director of the Coral Reef Alliance, who was not involved in the report.

The report comes just a few weeks after a research study showed that coral reefs have declined by 50 percent since the 1950s.

The massive decline was largely due to coral bleaching, the report said, which is when warm ocean waters cause the coral to eject the algae it relies on for nutrients. Climate change is warming oceans and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projects that 70 to 90 percent of the world’s coral will die if the planet warms 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

The report also found, however, that coral reefs are highly resilient and can quickly recover if conditions change, as they did after the 1998 bleaching event, adding urgency to efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“To me, this report is sounding a loud alarm bell, which is something we should all definitely pay attention to,” Colton said. “It’s a call to action; not all reefs are doomed.”

Other studies show how changes to regional ocean currents and wind patterns also are intensifying extremes. In 2016, researchers found that boundary currents, running parallel to the coast of several continents, are carrying 20 percent more energy than 50 years ago and fueling an increase of destructive flooding in some regions, including Asia, which was highlighted as one of the areas most at risk in the new WMO report.


Too Much and Too Little Water

With global warming intensifying the water cycle, floods and droughts are increasing, the world is unprepared.

The global supply of fresh water is dropping by almost half an inch annually, the World Meteorological Organization warned in a report released this week. By 2050, about 5 billion people will have inadequate access to water at least one month per year, the report said.

Overall, global warming is intensifying the planet’s water cycle, with an increase of 134 percent in flood-related disasters since 2000, while the number and duration of droughts has grown by 29 percent over the same period. Most of the deaths and economic losses from floods are in Asia, while Africa is hardest hit by drought.

“The water is draining out of the tub in some places, while it’s overflowing in others,” said Maxx Dilley, director of the WMO Climate Programme. “We’ve known about this for a long time. When scientists were starting to get a handle on what climate change was going to mean, an acceleration of the hydrological cycle was one of the things that was considered likely.”

Researchers are seeing the changes to the hydrological cycle in its impacts as well as in the data, Dilley said.

“And it’s not just climate,” he said. “Society plays a major role, with population growth and development. At some point these factors are really going to come together in a way that is really damaging. This summer’s extremes were early warnings.”

In the United States, there have been 64 flood and drought disasters since 1980, which cost upwards of $427 billion, or 21.5 percent of the total cost of the country’s climate-related catastrophes compiled by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Globally, the WMO estimates that, between 1970 and 2019, there were 11,072 disasters related to weather, water and other climate-related hazards, resulting in 2.06 million deaths and $3.6 trillion in economic losses. About 70 percent of the deaths associated with climate-related hazards were in the world’s least developed countries.

“There is a long, long history of attempts to improve early warning systems for impacts to agriculture and food security, but the water sector is underserved,” Dilley said. “There are a series of water variables, like groundwater and river discharge, that aren’t being observed.”

Global warming intensifies water-related extremes in several ways. A warmer atmosphere holds more moisture, which can fuel more intense rainfall, including from tropical storms. For example, recent research shows that warming will intensify rain from moist streams of air called atmospheric rivers, which already cause most flood damage in the Western United States.


 

Cop 26 Un Climate Conf

Climate Action – A Frog in Boiling Water

Frogs Boiling

 

 

If you throw a frog in a pot of boiling water, it will hop right out.

But if you put that frog in a pot of tepid water and slowly warm it, the frog doesn’t figure out what going on until it’s too late. Boiled frog.


Climate change action, a top priority for most of the world; and President Biden.

President Biden has committed to a goal to cut the carbon emissions of the US in half by the end of this decade, an ambitious undertaking that requires greater investments in solar, wind, battery storage, and hydrogen energy solutions.

According to a recent analysis by the Rhodium Group, an independent research firm, the Biden $3.5 trillion dollar  spending bill designed to curb U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by as much as a gigaton — but would probably get the country only halfway to its 2030 goals.

With tax credits extended for firms working in the clean energy sector and incentives put in place for American manufacturers to shift to greener consumption, climate change stocks have soared since the Biden administration announced the plan.

Yet despite a pledge to halve emissions by the end of the decade, congressional Democrats are struggling to pass a pair of bills that would provide hundreds of billions of dollars for renewable energy, electric vehicles and programs that would help communities adapt to a changing climate, as Grand Old Party aka Gas Oil Pollution party stands firmly in the way, a firewall against meaningful and needed timely transformational action which addresses a global climate disaster.

Some of the world’s top emitters, including China and India, have yet to formally commit to a new 2030 emissions reduction target. Activists worry that an emerging energy crisis, which has raised prices and triggered blackouts, could imperil efforts to get developing economies to phase out polluting fuels.

In the United States, climate disasters have already caused more than $100 billion in damage so far this year, according to analyses from The Washington Post and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.


Keep it in the ground .., meets imbedded political and dirty energy stakeholders

A September study in Nature found that 60 percent of Earth’s oil and fossil methane gas and 90 percent of coal must remain in the ground for the world to have a chance of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) — a threshold that scientists say would spare humanity the most disastrous climate impacts.

A new report by the US Department of Energy has unveiled plans for massive investments in solar that would employ over 1.5 million people and produce enough power to power all US homes by 2035.

The findings come amid a major push to get countries to commit to more ambitious climate goals ahead of a United Nations summit in Glasgow, Scotland, next month. Research shows that existing pledges will put the planet on track to heat up about 2.7 degrees Celsius (4.9 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century — a level of warming that would lead to drastic food and water shortages, deadly weather disasters, and catastrophic ecosystem collapse.

This week, a coalition of more than 380 groups filed a legal petition demanding that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers stop issuing permits for new fossil fuel infrastructure projects. Two days later, hundreds of scientists submitted an open letter asking Biden to do the same.

“The reality of our situation is now so dire that only a rapid phase-out of fossil fuel extraction and combustion can fend off the worst consequences of the climate crisis,” they wrote.

In response to Monday’s protests, however, American Petroleum Institute spokeswoman Megan Bloomgren said curbing the country’s energy options would harm the economy and national security. “American energy is produced under some of the highest environmental standards in the world,” she said.

Pledging to reduce greenhouse gas emissions without cutting back on fossil fuel extraction, activists say, is like a person promising to lose weight while continuing to consume french fries and doughnuts.


EPA to the Rescue?

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan says he’s willing to wield broad regulatory power to enact President Biden’s climate agenda if Congress fails to pass meaningful climate legislation. 

Regan says his agency will issue a robust greenhouse gas rule for power plants, a stringent methane rule for oil and gas infrastructure, and sweeping emissions standards for new cars, regardless of Congress’s actions.

EPA is at the center of the president’s ambitious climate agenda,” Regan said. And in addition to the legislative pieces, EPA is already aggressively using its rulemaking authority to deliver the types of emission reductions that we need to protect people from climate pollution.

“There is a central role that EPA has to play. At the same time, we’re watching this legislative negotiation play out,” Regan said, adding that “we’re trying to paint the picture that there is a marriage between the legislative discussion and the existing statutory authority that EPA possesses.”