Wednesday, November 25, 2015 - 03:58 • Justin Mikulka
oil train conference

On November 12th, I boarded a train headed to Pittsburgh, PA to attend the first national independent gathering focused on the topic of oil trains. The trip would take me through Philadelphia where an Amtrak train crashed in May resulting in eight fatalities and over 200 injuries. 

There is general consensus that the accident would have been avoided if positive train control technology had been in place. In 2008, Congress mandated that positive train control be installed by the end of 2015. However, the railroads failed to do this and were recently given a three to five year extension by Congress after the rail companies threatened to shut down rail service if the mandate were enforced.

Monday, November 30, 2015 - 10:32 • Brendan Montague


David Cameron blustered through his three minute speech before 146 fellow world leaders in Paris tonight for the COP21 negotiations by imagining future generations asking “what was so difficult” about preventing catastrophic climate change.

The prime minister employed rhetorical dexterity to avoid any firm commitments on behalf of the UK - avoiding any mention of carbon capture and storage, solar and wind energy or the cuts to subsidies his government has inflicted over the coming months.

He said: “Let's just imagine for a moment: what we would have to say to our grand children if we failed? We’d have to say, 'it was all too difficult'. They’d reply, 'what was it that was so difficult when the world was in peril?'”

Monday, November 30, 2015 - 04:40 • Brendan Montague


Fossil fuel subsides totalling $500 billion globally must be scrapped to prevent catastrophic climate change, the Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group told the COP21 conference today.

John Key, the New Zealand Prime Minister, presented the Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform Communiqué to Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on behalf of the Friends of Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform and its supporters. 

Philippe Joubert, Chair of The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group, said: “The CLG's long-standing efforts to put a price on carbon, including most recently working with the World Bank through the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition, will soon deliver results. 

Monday, November 30, 2015 - 00:00 • Kyla Mandel


Barack Obama knows COP21 is his legacy moment. His presidency has been book-ended by the two most critical international climate summits – the disastrous Copenhagen and now the hope-filled Paris.

The American president joined 150 world leaders for the opening ceremony on the first day of the UN climate conference in Paris where thousands of delegates hope to agree legally binding international agreements to prevent catastrophic climate change.

Obama went over his allotted three minutes to tell the world future generations would suffer the worst impacts of climate unless the current generation acts. “I believe in the words of Martin Luther King that there is such a thing as being too late. And when it comes to climate change that hour is almost upon us,” he said. 

Sunday, November 29, 2015 - 04:58 • Guest

This is a guest post by Lawrence Torcello, cross-posted from The Conversation.

Much of the general public is well aware of scientists' recommendations on climate change. In particular, climate scientists and other academics say society needs to keep global temperatures to no more than two degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels to avoid the most dangerous effects of climate change.

But now more academics are weighing in on climate change: philosophers, ethicists, and social scientists among others.

More than 2,100 academics, and counting, from over 80 nations and a diversity of disciplines have endorsed a moral and political statementaddressed to global leaders ahead of December’s UN climate conference in Paris.

Saturday, November 28, 2015 - 00:01 • Kyla Mandel

The time has finally arrived. We're on the Eurostar heading to Paris for the COP21 climate conference kick-off.

On Monday, the world is meeting in Paris to (hopefully) agree a deal that will curb our carbon emissions and avert catastrophic climate change.

The stakes are high. Over the course of just two weeks, we’ll see leaders doing backroom negotiations, and countries from every corner of our planet will be working hard to have their voice heard. Meanwhile, others – be it green NGOs or climate deniers – will be doing their best to influence the decisions.

This is why DeSmog UK has put together a quick guide highlighting some on-the-ground events we're hoping to cover. You won’t want to miss it.

Friday, November 27, 2015 - 04:58 • Guest

This is a guest post by Tim Donaghy of Greenpeace USA.

Royal Dutch Shell may have recently scrapped its plans to drill for oil in the Chukchi Sea, but the oil industry has not given up its designs on the Arctic Ocean’s fossil fuels. In September, Houston-based company Hilcorp submitted a plan to develop and produce oil from the Liberty prospect in the Beaufort Sea off the north coast of Alaska. If the Obama administration approves Hilcorp’s plan it will mark a dubious milestone: the first oil produced entirely from federal waters in the Arctic Ocean. The President has made several important decisions in recent months to slow or halt Arctic oil exploration, but he can still do more. President Obama has the power to keep Arctic oil in the ground for good, and approving Hilcorp’s plan would be a step in the wrong direction.

Thursday, November 26, 2015 - 07:58 • Farron Cousins

Lamar Smith, the Republican Chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, has launched a one-man crusade to discredit climate scientists whom he believes are only working to advance President Obama’s climate initiatives.

In October, Smith began fighting with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) over a study it published showing that climate change had not paused or slowed down — a finding that irks climate science deniers who attempt to argue the opposite, incorrect view.

Thursday, November 26, 2015 - 04:58 • Guest

This is an excerpt cross-posted with permission from the National Center for Science Education.

A recent survey by the National Surveys on Energy and the Environment found that only 16% Americans believe there is no solid evidence for global warming. Though good news for the public at large, there are still questions about how global warming is being addressed with students, the next generation of science-savvy citizens, particularly in the classroom and with the texts used there.

Though there have been studies on what students know about climate change, my colleague Diego Román and I wondered how science textbooks were presenting the topic. Are the textbooks presenting climate change as real and certain, matching the scientific consensus? Or are the textbooks presenting climate change as controversial, matching historic (if not current) public opinion? To answer this question, we closely examined four California middle school textbooks.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015 - 09:25 • Emma Gilchrist
Ottawa climate protest
Ottawa climate protest

Nine and a half years. That’s how long Stephen Harper was prime minister of Canada — a long haul for environmentalists, who were all but shut out of Ottawa and often antagonized by the federal government.

Now that Justin Trudeau and the Liberals have taken the helm, advocates have high hopes for a course correction on the environment and energy files. But after nearly a decade of working under hostile conditions, environmentalists need to make a course correction of their own if they want to effectively influence public policy, experts say.   

If I was running a large ENGO and my file was climate, it’s a new day,” said Allan Northcott, vice-president of Max Bell Foundation, which runs the Public Policy Training Institute to train non-profit leaders in how to effectively advocate for policy changes.

The opportunity is different, so it’s going to require a different plan, a different strategy.”