intergovernmental panel on climate change

How Big Oil Tried (But Failed) to Capture the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

Read time: 10 mins
IPCC synthesis report meeting GCC

A secretive fossil fuel lobby group undertook a decades-long campaign to undermine mainstream climate science while spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to try and influence major scientific reports, a tranche of newly released documents shows.

The Global Climate Coalition (GCC) was a fossil-fuel backed lobby group active in the mid-90s and early 2000s. A collection of briefings, meeting minutes, notes, and correspondence from the group, released by the Climate Investigations Centre in collaboration with DeSmog and Climate Liability News, show how the GCC tried to manipulate the UN’s official scientific advisory body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

2018 Was a Year of Deadly Climate Disasters and an 'Ear Splitting Wake-Up Call'

Read time: 9 mins
Hurricane Florence flooding

2018 is set to rank as the fourth warmest year on record — and the fourth year in a row reflecting a full degree Celsius (1.8° Fahrenheit) temperature rise from the late 1800s, climate scientists say.

This was the year that introduced us to fire tornadoes, bomb cyclones, and, in Death Valley, a five day streak of 125°F temperatures, part of the hottest month ever documented at a U.S. weather station.

2018 also brought the world’s highest-ever low temperature, as nighttime temperatures fell to a sizzling 109°F in Quiryat, Oman, on June 28, smashing a 2011 record-high low.

A startling 95 percent of the oldest and thickest Arctic sea ice is now gone — and we’re losing Arctic ice at a rate of 14,000 tons per second, according to recent research, three times as fast as roughly three decades ago.

It was a year notable both for its overwhelming, climate-fueled impacts as well as its gut-wrenching predictions for what climate change still has in store for us if we fail to act. So much happened, frankly, that it's been hard to keep it all straight.

Decades of Denial and Stalling Have Created a Climate Crunch

Read time: 4 mins
Firefighters spray water on a 2013 bush fire in Australia

In a 1965 speech to members, American Petroleum Institute president Frank Ikard outlined the findings of a report by then-president Lyndon Johnson’s Science Advisory Committee, based in part on research the institute conducted in the 1950s.

The substance of the report is that there is still time to save the world's peoples from the catastrophic consequence of pollution, but time is running out,” Ikard said, adding, “One of the most important predictions of the report is that carbon dioxide is being added to the earth’s atmosphere by the burning of coal, oil, and natural gas at such a rate that by the year 2000 the heat balance will be so modified as possibly to cause marked changes in climate beyond local or even national efforts.”

Many scientists were reaching similar conclusions, based on a body of evidence that had been growing at least since French mathematician Joseph Fourier described the greenhouse effect in 1824. In the 1950s, Russian climatologist Mikhail Budyko examined how feedback loops amplify human influences on the climate. He published two books, in 1961 and 1962, warning that growing energy use will warm the planet and cause Arctic ice to disappear, creating feedback cycles that would accelerate warming.

Fossil Fuel Companies Knew How Hard Keeping to IPCC's 'Unprecedented' 1.5C Limit Would Be — And Did Nothing

Read time: 6 mins
Benxi steel industry

The scientists are clear: “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society” are needed if the humans are going to prevent the world warming by more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

This news — emanating from the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) mammoth new special report —  comes as a surprise to almost no-one. Least of all the fossil fuel industry, which has known for decades that the carbon budget that keeps that goal within reach has been rapidly depleting thanks to its products.

Nations Won’t Reach Paris Climate Goal Without Protecting Wildlife and Nature, Warns Report

Read time: 4 mins
Sierpe river mangrove forest in Costa Rica

A sweeping new report released today emphasizes just how intertwined the challenges of climate change and loss of biodiversity truly are.

The Paris Climate Agreement and several other United Nations (UN) pacts “all depend on the health and vitality of our natural environment in all its diversity and complexity,” said Dr. Anne Larigauderie, executive secretary of the UN-backed organization behind the report. “Acting to protect and promote biodiversity is at least as important to achieving these commitments and to human well-being as is the fight against global climate change.”

Media Coverage of Climate Science Is Stunting Climate Action, Especially in US

Read time: 4 mins

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change plays an enormous role in shaping how climate science gets translated into policy in countries around the world, but so does the media.

A new report finds that, while the IPCC could have managed the rollout of its Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) better, lack of compelling coverage, especially in US media, is leading to less public demand for action and hence political will to adopt policies to deal with climate change.

The report, published in Nature Climate Change, examines how the IPCC’s release strategy around AR5 contributed to diminishing returns in terms of media coverage, as well as the ways media outlets chose to frame the issue and how that impacts public perception of climate issues.

Researchers with the University of Exeter studied print, broadcast, and online media in both the US and the UK and found that the biggest difference was that there is simply more climate coverage in the UK. A lot more: three times as many articles and five times as many broadcasts were dedicated to climate change in the UK as in the US.

How Often Were Willie Soon’s Industry-Funded “Deliverables” Referenced by the IPCC?

Read time: 8 mins

Thanks to a bombshell investigation reported over the weekend by The New York TimesThe Guardian, Inside Climate News and more, we now know that the prominent climate denialist Willie Soon, oft-cited by climate denying politicians and industry figures, calls his publications “deliverables” to his fossil fuel funders.

Some of these “deliverables” have even found their way into the reports produced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), generally regarded as the most comprehensive evaluation of the current state of climate science.

Industry-Funded Vivian Krause Uses Classic Dirty PR Tactics to Distract from Canada's Real Energy Debate

Read time: 5 mins
Vivian Krause

Vivian Krause has spent years scrutinizing how Canadian environmental groups are funded, claiming she's just asking “fair questions.”

But as the blogger-turned-newspaper-columnist has run rampant with her conspiracy theory that American charitable foundations' support of Canadian environmental groups is nefarious, she has continually avoided seeking a fair answer.

If Krause were seeking a fair answer, she'd quickly learn that both investment dollars and philanthropic dollars cross borders all the time. There isn’t anything special or surprising about environmental groups receiving funding from U.S. foundations that share their goals — especially when the increasingly global nature of environmental challenges, particularly climate change, is taken into consideration.

Despite this common-sense answer, Krause’s strategy has effectively diverted attention away from genuine debate of environmental issues, while simultaneously undermining the important role environmental groups play in Canadian society.

Prescription for Health: Fight Global Warming

Read time: 4 mins

This is a guest post by David Suzuki

What if we could reduce worldwide deaths from disease, starvation and disaster while improving the health of people everywhere? According to the World Health Organization, we can.

Previously unrecognized health benefits could be realized from fast action to reduce climate change and its consequences,” says a news release about WHO’s first global conference on health and climate in Geneva August 27 to 29, adding, “changes in energy and transport policies could save millions of lives annually from diseases caused by high levels of air pollution.” Encouraging people to use public transit, cycling and walking instead of driving would cut traffic injuries and vehicle emissions and promote better health through increased physical activity.

Reducing the threat of global warming and finding ways to adapt to unavoidable change will also help people around the world “deal with the impact of heat, extreme weather, infectious disease and food insecurity.”

Climate change affects human health in multiple ways. Increased extreme weather causes flooding and droughts, which influences food production, water and sanitation. Pathogens that plague humans, livestock and crops spread more widely. WHO notes that diseases such as cholera, malaria and dengue are especially sensitive to weather and climate changes.

Legal Case: White House Argues Against Considering Climate Change on Energy Projects

Read time: 8 mins

Just over a month before the United Nations convenes on September 23 in New York City to discuss climate change and activists gather for a week of action, the Obama White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) argued it does not have to offer guidance to federal agencies it coordinates with to consider climate change impacts for energy decisions.

It came just a few weeks before a leaked draft copy of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) latest assessment said climate disruption could cause “severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems.”

Initially filed as a February 2008 petition to CEQ by the International Center for Technology Assessment, the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) when George W. Bush still served as President, it had been stalled for years. 

Six and a half years later and another term into the Obama Administration, however, things have finally moved forward. Or backwards, depending on who you ask. 

NEPA and CEQ

The initial February 2008 legal petition issued by the plaintiffs was rather simple: the White House's Council for Environmental Quality (CEQ) should provide guidance to federal agencies it coordinates with to weigh climate change impacts when utilizing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) on energy policy decisions. 

A legal process completely skirted in recent prominent tar sands pipeline cases by both TransCanada and Enbridge, NEPA is referred to by legal scholars as the “Magna Carta” of environmental law.

Magna Carta; Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

CEQ oversees major tenets of environmental, energy and climate policy. It often serves as the final arbiter on many major legislative pushes proposed by Congress and federal agencies much in the same way the White House's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) does for regulatory policy. 

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