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Emissions From Global Food Production Threaten To Overwhelm Efforts To Combat Climate Change

Rice fields in the Kashmir region

By Pep Canadell, CSIRO and Hanqin Tian, Auburn University

Each year our terrestrial biosphere absorbs about a quarter of all the carbon dioxide emissions that humans produce. This a very good thing; it helps to moderate the warming produced by human activities such as burning fossil fuels and cutting down forests.

But in a paper published in Nature today, we show that emissions from other human activities, particularly food production, are overwhelming this cooling effect. This is a worrying trend, at a time when CO2 emissions from fossil fuels are slowing down, and is clearly not consistent with efforts to stabilise global warming well below 2C as agreed at the Paris climate conference.

To explain why, we need to look at two other greenhouse gases: methane and nitrous oxide.

Here's Why Even The World's Largest Coal Company Is Teetering On Bankruptcy

This is a guest post by Nick Abraham, originally published on Oil Check Northwest

Peabody Energy, the largest private coal company in the world, is one of the last remaining coal majors to still be floating above the bankruptcy tidal-wave that has hit the industry. But it now looks like that even this coal behemoth will likely go under. Languishing under the same over capitalization and changing market structures that have plagued the entire industry (more on that below) Peabody's stock has dropped 30% just since the final fiscal quarter of last year.

Peabody is now $6.3 billion in debt. Its Gateway Pacific terminal, just north of Bellingham, WA, (which if built would be the largest facility of its kind in North America) has been in a holding pattern as local communities weigh whether a project like this is in the collective interest. 

Coal's demise has been well-reported. Once the standard bearer of our power grid, coal has dropped from providing a substantial 50% of the nation’s electricity to 29%. Just last week, the Oregon legislature passed a bill to transition off coal power completely. The result of this downturn is that many domestic coal companies were becoming heavily dependent on exported coal (and exports have been falling since 2012)—carried by train through American cities and towns—to make up the difference.

Will Cap-And-Trade Slow Climate Change?

This is a guest post by David Suzuki

The principle that polluters should pay for the waste they create has led many experts to urge governments to put a price on carbon emissions. One method is the sometimes controversial cap-and-trade. Quebec, California and the European Union have already adopted cap-and-trade, and Ontario will join Quebec and California’s system in January 2017. But is it a good way to address climate change?

Ford Just Dumped ALEC, Latest Major Corporation to Dump American Legislative Exchange Council

By Nick Surgey, originally published by the Center for Media and Democracy

Ford Motor Company confirmed to the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) that it is cutting ties with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an organization that has drawn heavy criticism for promoting climate change denial and for opposing the development of renewable energy sources.
 
“As part of our annual budget review, we have adjusted our participation in several groups. We will not be participating in ALEC in 2016,” wrote Christin Baker, a Ford spokesperson in an email to CMD.
 
Its products might be “Ford Tough,” but in making the decision to stop funding ALEC, Ford executives are responding to consumer concern over its membership in the controversial, Koch-funded ALEC, which has both an extreme anti-worker agenda as well as an anti-environmental agenda.
 
The departure makes Ford the 108th identified company to cut ties with ALEC in recent years.

Is Intel Fighting To Keep Oregon Hooked On Coal?

coal trains wyoming

This is a guest post by Nick Abraham, originally published on Oil Check Northwest
 
As you are reading this, a crucial compromise is making its way through the Oregon legislature: the state could finally transition completely off coal power and double its renewable energy portfolio.

Currently, Oregon still gets about 30% of its electricity from coal. This all comes from the state’s two largest utilities: PGE and Pacific Power. PGE purchases power from massive coal fired plants in Coalstrip, Montana as well as Boardman, Oregon (set to be shutdown in 2020), while Pacific Power pulls from their whole western grid, which is fed by 20+ coal plants.

Despite these two utilities historic reliance on coal, they’ve come to an unprecedented agreement with environmental groups and consumers to wean themselves off dirty energy over the next 30 years.

The Citizens Utility Board, an electricity ratepayer advocacy group, is championing the deal, which it calls, “best for consumers, best for utilities and best for the environment.” This trifecta of groups rarely sees eye-to-eye on small issues, much less a massive leap like this agreement. It’s one of those rare moments where everyone seems to be on the same page. That is except one rarely heard of regional association.

These 5 States Are Leading the Way in Solar Power Initiatives

This is a guest post by Aaron Viles of Care2.org
 
Two years ago, Nevada sat among the top of the lists as one of the best states for solar energy. Some of the reasons are baked into the state: its climate and sunshine make it ideal for both large-scale and residential solar. But what set Nevada apart from its other southwestern neighbors were the state’s policies that made it easy to capitalize on their geographic advantage. These include renewable energy tax credits for residence, a rebate program and generous net metering—a policy where utilities must pay residences for the electricity they generate.
 
But in the last year, Nevada’s solar standing has taken a nosedive as political leaders seek to overturn and phase out net metering, one of the most successful policies driving a boom in residential solar.

Energy Lobbyists Gather, Blame Obama and the Pope for "War on Fossil Fuels"

This is a guest post by David Halperin, originally published at Republic Report

Last week, on the day after the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that 2015 was by far the hottest year on record, the energy industry’s chief lobbyists gathered in a downtown Washington ballroom to tell each other that the real problem was not global warming, but rather efforts by the Obama Administration — and Pope Francis — to contain global warming.

The remarks of these lobbyists suggested that many of them live on a different planet, where climate change is not an urgent challenge but rather is the obsession of ideological malcontents.

The meeting, held annually, is sponsored by the United States Energy Association, whose chieftains are not the CEOs of America’s oil, coal, and gas companies. Rather, they are the heads of the Washington-based trade associations that lobby against regulation of greenhouse gases and toxic pollution. They mostly are former corporate lawyers or Capital Hill functionaries who worked their way up and now receive enormous-for-DC salaries to serve at the beck and call of actual energy executives.

David Suzuki: Environmental Rights Are Human Rights

My grandparents came here from Japan at the beginning of the 20th century. Although it would be a one-way trip, the perilous journey across the Pacific was worth the risk. They left behind extreme poverty for a wealth of opportunity.

But Canada was different then, a racist country built on policies of colonization, assimilation and extermination of the land’s original peoples. My grandparents and Canadian-born parents, like indigenous people and others of “colour”, couldn’t vote, buy property in many places or enter most professions. During the Second World War, my parents, sisters and I were deprived of rights and property and incarcerated in the B.C. Interior, even though Canada was the only home we’d ever known.

A lot has changed since my grandparents arrived, and since I was born in 1936. Women were not considered “persons” with democratic rights until 1918. People of African or Asian descent, including those born and raised here, couldn’t vote until 1948, and indigenous people didn’t get to vote until 1960. Homosexuality was illegal until 1969!

In 1960, John Diefenbaker’s Progressive Conservative government enacted Canada’s Bill of Rights, and in 1982, Pierre Trudeau’s Liberals brought us the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, with equality rights strengthened in 1985.

Arch Coal Nearly Doubled Its CEO Pay As It Lurched To Bankruptcy, Drawing SEC Attention

This is a guest post by Joe Smyth from Greenpeace, originally published at Medium.

Arch Coal, the second largest coal mining company in the US, filed for bankruptcy on Monday, raising questions about the company’s reclamation obligations for its massive strip mines, its plans to export coal from the Powder River Basin to Asia, the future of its existing and pending federal coal leases, and more. While Arch Coal sold mines, cut wages, and stopped paying dividends as its fortunes fell, one area it didn’t skimp was executive compensation.

In fact, while Arch Coal shareholders (or at least those who failed to divest from the company) have lost out, Arch CEO John Eaves somehow got a big raise as his company was failing — which seems to have earned the attention of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Armed Occupation of Oregon National Wildlife Refuge Has Roots In Anti-Environmental Movement

This is a guest post by Kert Davies originally published at PolluterWatch.

Last weekend when an armed group of men in eastern Oregon occupied building within a National Wildlife Refuge to protest the jailing of a rancher for Federal crimes, we immediately went to the Anti-Environmental Archives to do some research.  Lo and behold, the Archives contain lots of documents about the location, the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and lots of information on the decades long conflict between ranchers like Dwight Hammond who want to run their cattle into protected areas and Federal authorities seeking to uphold the law and protect the area from despoliation. 

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