Weekend reading on climate change mitigation and fossil-fueled politics


(1) No False Choices: To Preserve a Livable Climate, We Need to Slash Both CO2 and Methane ASAP; (2) Oil Change International Report: Fossil Fuel Production Subsidies Exceed $21 Billion Annually in United States, have increased by 45% under Obama’s “All of the Above” energy policy; (3) Joint Economic Committee Hearing on “The Economic Impact of Increased Natural Gas Production” (video); (4) Leaked Trade Deal Document Shows EU Pressuring U.S. to Lift Crude Oil Export Ban; (5) Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project (DDPP) Presents Interim Report to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.

No False Choices: To Preserve A Livable Climate, We Need To Slash Both CO2 And Methane ASAP (Joe Romm, Climate Progress)

The bad news is that humanity has dawdled for so long that our only realistic chance to avoid multiple, irreversible, catastrophic climate impacts is to slash both carbon dioxide and the “super pollutants” like methane sharply starting as soon as possible.

As Dr. Jeffrey Sachs, Director of Columbia’s Earth Institute, told MSNBC Tuesday:

We’ve been told the basic falsehood that somehow fracking is going to save us, which is basically the opposite of the truth.

Some confusion has been generated on this issue by a Tuesday New York Times piece, “Picking Lesser of Two Climate Evils,” which frames our optimum climate strategy as a choice between targeting CO2 and targeting super pollutants like methane, hydrofluorocarbons, and black carbon, that together cause some 40% of the warming we’re experiencing now.

But that is a “false choice,” as longtime NASA climate scientist Drew Shindell explained to me. We have to do both to maximize lives saved and minimize the chances of dangerous warming. …

Earlier posts:

New research on methane leakage questions climate benefit of natural gas (June 27)

On the role of methane in EPA’s draft rule on carbon emissions (June 16)

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Oil Change International Report: Fossil Fuel Production Subsidies Exceed $21 Billion Annually in United States — Fossil fuel subsidies have increased by 45% under “All of the Above” energy policy

A new report released today by Oil Change International exposes over $21 billion in fossil fuel production subsidies annually in the U.S. at the federal and state levels.

The report, entitled “Cashing in on All of the Above: U.S. Fossil Fuel Production Subsidies under Obama,” outlines the wide array of subsidies going to the industry amidst a deepening climate crisis being spurred by continued fossil fuel extraction and production. In total, the report catalogs over $37 billion in U.S. federal and state support for the fossil fuel industry in 2013. …

Much of the increase in the value of fossil fuel production subsidies in the U.S. can be attributed to the increase in oil and gas production in recent years, the report finds. In particular, federal fossil fuel production and exploration subsidies in the US have grown in value by 45 percent since President Obama took office in 2009. …

Earlier posts:

End Polluter Welfare Act would eliminate more than $110 billion in subsidies to the fossil fuel industry (May 2012)

Rally at US Capitol to end fossil fuel subsidies (May 2012)

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U.S. Congress, Joint Economic Committee Hearing on “The Economic Impact of Increased Natural Gas Production” (witness testimony and archived webcast from June 24; webcast starts at about 29 minutes into the video)

Another congressional hearing aimed at promoting stepped up natural gas production. The political theater of the hearing includes energy expert Dan Yergin telling members what they want to hear, the witness from the Environmental Defense Fund offering very moderate environmental protection proposals and being outgunned and mostly ignored in the push from pro-industry committee members and witnesses, some anti-administration demagoguery from the dais and anti-renewable energy propaganda from the witness table, and a few questions raising concerns about emissions and health impacts.

Earlier post:

Bipartisan push for stepped up natural gas fracking and LNG export (June 30)

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Leaked Trade Deal Document Shows EU Pressuring U.S. to Lift Crude Oil Export Ban (Justin Mikulka, DeSmogBlog)

A secret document regarding the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations leaked this week shows that oil companies have just as much influence over the governments of the European Union as they do over the government of the U.S.

In the two-page document, the EU makes several arguments about why the TTIP should require the lifting of the U.S. ban on exporting crude oil…

The main two arguments of the new document are the same ones we always hear from Big Oil: promotion of competition via free markets and generic national security platitudes.

This new effort to lift the export ban rings of hypocrisy since just a few years ago the whole justification for “drill baby drill” in the U.S. was the idea of “energy independence.”  If we drilled here, we were told, we wouldn’t have to import oil from the Middle East.

Now, in favor of higher profits for global oil corporations, and with the standard complete disregard for the environment or the climate, that argument has been conveniently dropped from the talking points. Instead we are told the economy will be better and we will be safer if we send our oil overseas. …

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Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project (DDPP) Presents Interim Report to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon

From the July 8 news release: A report for the United Nations released today shows how the major emitting countries can cut their carbon emissions by mid-century in order to prevent dangerous climate change. The report, produced cooperatively by leading research institutes in 15 countries, is the first global cooperative program to identify practical pathways to a low-carbon economy by 2050. The Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project (DDPP) interim report will be presented in a briefing today to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, and tomorrow/the day after to the French government, as host of the 2015 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) climate conference. The interim report supports the UN Climate Summit on September 23, 2014. The full DDPP report will be presented in the spring of 2015.

“The Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project report is an effort to demonstrate how countries can contribute to achieving the globally agreed target of limiting global temperature rise to below 2 degrees,” said Secretary-General Ban. “Ambitious national action is critical to averting dangerous climate change. This report shows what is possible.”

The 195-page report was put together by a group led by Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. Most of the report consists of a series of analyses of 12 countries that are major emitters of greenhouse gases (Australia, Canada, China, France, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, United Kingdom, United States). We’re just part-way into this one and look forward to seeing more discussion of it.

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