carbon emissions

US Business Schools Failing on Climate Change

Laptop computer on a tree stump

By Nancy E. Landrum, Loyola University Chicago

Coca-Cola and Nestlé have recently closed facilities, and Starbucks is bracing for a global shortage of coffee — all due to effects from climate change. Climate change impacts every resource used by businesses: from agriculture, water, land and energy to workers and the economy. No business will be untouched. The Conversation

As a researcher and professor of business management, I have found that sustainable business courses across the U.S. do not align with the scientific consensus that we need radical change to avert disastrous consequences of climate change.

These future business leaders are not being prepared for the climate change challenges their companies are certain to face.

Senator Repeats Industry Talking Points in Congressional Push to Mandate Biomass Energy as “Carbon Neutral”

Clear-cut forest.

The Partnership for Policy Integrity (PFPI) released a video this week revealing the cozy relationship between the biomass industry and legislators like Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) who are pushing Congress to adopt laws that would classify biomass power plants as carbon neutral.

In the video, Sen. Collins can be heard repeating biomass industry talking points nearly word-for-word during a February 3 speech. In the video, she is defending an amendment that would force the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to treat power plants that burn wood and other biomass for electricity as emitting no carbon pollution.

Landmark Climate Bill Passed By California Legislature

After an intense lobbying spree and threats from Governor Jerry Brown to take the measure directly to voters via ballot initiative should it fail to pass, Senate Bill 32 (SB 32) was approved by the California legislature yesterday.

When it is signed into law by Brown, SB 32 will extend the climate targets adopted by the state under Assembly Bill 32 (AB 32), the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, which required California to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

The state is well on pace to meet the emissions targets set by AB 32, which is credited with having spurred developments that contributed $48 billion to California’s economy over the past 10 years while creating a half million jobs.

Scientists Confirm the Impacts of Climate Change Began Right After We Started Burning Fossil Fuels

London Olympics Industrial Revolution

New research by a team of international scientists reveals that the effects of human induced climate change began much earlier than originally thought.  

The study, conducted by researchers with the 2K Network and PAGES (Past Global Changes) and published today in the scientific journal Nature, finds that warming began in the mid-1800s shortly after the Industrial Revolution kicked off.

This confirms that our impact on the climate began just decades after we started burning fossil fuels – about 180 years earlier than traditional climate change graphs have shown – and that even the smallest amount of carbon dioxide can have an effect on how fast global temperatures increase.

Burning Fossil Fuels is Responsible for Most Sea-Level Rise Since 1970

By Aimée Slangen, Utrecht University and John Church, CSIRO

Global average sea level has risen by about 17 cm between 1900 and 2005. This is a much faster rate than in the previous 3,000 years.

The sea level changes for several reasons, including rising temperatures as fossil fuel burning increases the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. In a warming climate, the seas are expected to rise at faster rates, increasing the risk of flooding along our coasts. But until now we didn’t know what fraction of the rise was the result of human activities.

In research published in Nature Climate Change, we show for the first time that the burning of fossil fuels is responsible for the majority of sea level rise since the late 20th century.

As the amount of greenhouse gases we are putting into the atmosphere continues to increase, we need to understand how sea level responds. This knowledge can be used to help predict future sea level changes.

New Report Identifies The Fossil Fuels We Must Keep In The Ground To Avert Catastrophic Climate Change

As the US Senate haggles over a comprehensive energy bill, climate activist groups have identified the global fossil fuel reserves that must be kept in the ground if we’re to limit global warming to the critical 2-degree-Celsius threshold.

This week saw the Senate debating the hotly contested energy bill, which has been criticized by environmentalists for including a number of fossil fuel industry giveaways, including expedited permitting for liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals and subsidies for coal technology, among other troublesome provisions.

Democratic Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), Ed Markey (MA) and Brian Schatz (HI) responded by introducing an amendment into the energy bill designed to express Congress’s disapproval of the use of industry-funded think tanks and misinformation tactics aimed at sowing doubt about climate change science.

Senate Democrats ultimately stopped the energy bill from moving forward on Thursday over the fact that a $600-million amendment to address the water crisis in Flint, MI was not included.

The US is not the only country that needs to do some soul-searching when it comes to energy policies, however.

Biomass Industry Intensifies Fight For Carbon-Neutral Status As Obama Admin Carbon Rules Draw Near

The science is fairly convoluted but also entirely clear: Bioenergy — burning wood and other forest biomass as a fuel source — produces more carbon emissions than coal.

Even if all the forests we fed into power plants were to one day regrow, in theory sucking all that carbon back out of the Earth’s atmosphere, it would be far too late to be any kind of solution to the global climate crisis.

Yet 21 members of Congress recently wrote a letter urging the US Environmental Protection Agency to “take action to remove regulatory ambiguities in the treatment of utility-scale biomass power as a renewable resource.”

For The First Time In 40 Years, Economic Growth Did Not Lead To More Carbon Emissions In 2014

More than 160 countries are now consciously uncoupling from fossil fuels by adopting renewable energy policies and targets, which helped make 2014 the first year in the past four decades that economic growth was not accompanied by a rise in carbon emissions, according to a new report.

The 10th annual edition of REN21's Renewables Global Status Report found that, despite 3 percent growth last year in the global Gross Domestic Product and a 1.5 percent increase in energy consumption, CO2 emissions levels held steady at 32.3 billion metric tons, the same as in 2013.

Dirty Money vs. Clean Power: How the Fossil Fuel Industry Hopes to Kill EPA’s Climate Rule

This is a guest post by Patrick Parenteau, Professor of Law, Vermont Law School

The fossil fuel industry is pulling out all the stops in an effort to derail President Obama’s Clean Power Plan being developed by the Environmental Protection Agency under the Clean Air Act.

The proposed plan, which aims to cut carbon emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030, is due to be published as a final rule this summer. Launching a preemptive strike, the coal industry filed suit earlier this year seeking an “extraordinary writ” to stop the rulemaking in its tracks. This would be an unprecedented act of judicial intervention.

Fossil Fuels from Federal Lands Create One Quarter of Total U.S. Carbon Emissions, New Report Concludes

A newly released analysis by the Climate Accountability Institute concludes that fossil fuels extracted from federal lands release carbon equal to a quarter of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. The rate has stayed roughly consistent from 2003 to 2014.

When it comes to coal, the rate was even higher than average last year, the report concluded. “In 2014, two-fifths (40.2 percent) of U.S. coal  production was from leases on Federal Lands;  production on Indian Lands accounted for an additional 1.9 percent of U.S. coal production,” wrote Rick Heede, author of the analysis.

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