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Cities Can Jump-start Climate Progress by Plugging in Their Vehicles

Nissan Leaf electric vehicles in the city of Seattle fleet

By Daniel Cohan, Rice University

President Donald Trump’s decision to exit the Paris climate agreement reaffirmed what was already clear: The federal government is no longer leading American efforts to shrink our carbon footprint. But many state and local governments — along with businesses and consumers — aim to help fill this policy void.

At least a dozen governors have joined the United States Climate Alliance, committing their states to achieve emissions reductions consistent with President Barack Obama’s Paris pledge. More than 200 mayors are promising their cities will follow suit.

My research with my former student Shayak Sengupta about how cities can benefit from buying electric cars suggests that fuel-free municipal fleets can cut urban carbon footprints while improving public health and saving taxpayers money.

To Slow Climate Change, India Joins the Renewable Energy Revolution

Indian woman standing on a pole adjusting solar street light

By Arun Agrawal, University of Michigan

On June 3, two days after President Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the Paris climate accord, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi exchanged a hug with French President Emmanuel Macron during an official visit to Paris. Modi and Macron pledged to achieve emissions reductions beyond their nations’ commitments under the Paris Agreement, and Macron announced he will visit India later this year for a summit on solar power.

For observers who equate India’s energy production with a reliance on coal, this exchange came as a surprise. Modi’s internationally visible pledge would put India three years ahead of schedule to achieve its “Intended Nationally Determined Contribution” to the Paris climate agreement. Instead of shifting to 40 percent renewables by 2030, India now expects to surpass this goal by 2027.

Window Dressing: Exxon Reluctantly Crosses the Climate Threshold

Exxon gas station sign

This is a guest post by Dick Russell.

The day before President Trump made his decision to pull the U.S. out of the landmark Paris climate accord, ExxonMobil reluctantly crossed a climate threshold.

A majority of shareholders, over 62 percent, voted in favor of America’s biggest oil company releasing detailed analyses of the risks that climate change poses to its business. 

Having previously argued that sufficient information is already being provided, CEO Darren Woods relented far enough to say that Exxon would “take the vote seriously [and] will respond to that feedback and look for opportunities” to communicate. Woods did not, however, agree to produce a requested report.  

Court Papers Claim Rex Tillerson Approved Misleading Carbon Accounting Scheme While ExxonMobil Boss

By Dan Zegart, orginally published at Climate Investigations Center.

Former ExxonMobil CEO and now-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson personally approved a scheme for accounting for the financial impact of greenhouse gas emissions on the company's business that deliberately misled investors, one that continued right through ExxonMobil's May 31st shareholders', according to an explosive court filing by the New York Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman.

Schneiderman claims that beginning in 2007, ExxonMobil used one set of figures in describing carbon-related risks to investors but internally used another, secret set.  The net result was to vastly understate the financial danger to the company.

The June 2nd court filing also accuses the ExxonMobil of destroying countless documents despite the fact that it had a legal obligation to preserve all records potentially relevant to the attorney general's investigation, which is probing possible fraud in ExxonMobil's disclosures about climate change to investors and the public. 

Around the World, Environmental Laws are Under Attack

By Bill Laurance, James Cook University

As President Donald Trump pulls out of the Paris climate agreement, it is hard to imagine that he’s listening to the experts.

US climate researchers are being so stifled, ignored or blackballed that France has now offered sanctuary to these misunderstood souls.

One might prefer to think of Trump as an outlier in an otherwise environmentally sane world. But alarmingly, there’s just too much evidence to the contrary.

A recent analysis, led by Guillaume Chapron of Sweden’s Agricultural University, reveals a rising tide of assaults on environmental safeguards worldwide. If nothing else, it illustrates the sheer range and creativity of tactics used by those who seek to profit at the expense of nature.

Meet Trump's Guy Who Said Clean Energy Policies Are Greatest Threat to America's Power Grid

This is a guest post by Dave Anderson, and originally appeard on Energyandpolicy.org.

Travis Fisher, a Trump political appointee in the Department of Energy, wrote a 2015 report for the Institute for Energy Research that called clean energy policies “the single greatest emerging threat” to the nation's electric power grid, and a greater threat to electric reliability than cyber attacks, terrorism or extreme weather.

Fisher is now leading up a controversial grid study ordered by Sec. of Energy Rick Perry under the pretense of ensuring the long-term reliability of the nation's electricity supply. If Fisher's past writings on the topic are any indication, the forthcoming DOE study is sure to be a thinly veiled attack on renewable energy aimed at propping up outdated coal and nuclear power plants that can't compete in today's electricity market.

Rick Perry's grid study sounds strikingly similar to the one Travis Fisher wrote for fossil fuel interests in 2015.

Former Obama EPA Official Now Lobbying for Atlantic Coast Pipeline

Gas pipeline being laid into the ground

This is a guest post by  and originally appeared on LittleSis.org.

A new disclosure by Dominion shows that a long-time employee for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is now lobbying for the controversial Atlantic Coast pipeline (ACP).

Laura Vaught is Dominion’s Federal Affairs Policy Advisor, a position she began in March 2017.

Casino Magnate Sheldon Adelson Stands Between Nevada and a Renewable Energy Future

Sheldon Adelson

This is a guest post by David Pomerantz crossposted from Energy and Policy Institute

The Nevada Assembly passed a bill yesterday that would dramatically increase the growth of renewable energy in the state, but Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate and major donor to Donald Trump, is attempting to prevent the bill from becoming law.

The bill, AB 206, would ensure that Nevada gets 80 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2040. AB 206 passed the Assembly with bipartisan support by a margin of 30 to 12, but it must now pass the Senate and be signed by Gov. Brian Sandoval.

Op-Ed: Glacial Progress at Bonn Climate Talks Shows Why we Need to Exclude Big Polluters From Negotiations

Bonn climate talks

When it comes to the fossil fuel industry participating in UN climate negotiations, it’s clear there is a conflict of interest – and demands for this to end are nothing new. But after fierce resistance to this idea during talks in Bonn last week from the EU, US and Australia, more needs to be done, argues Pascoe Sabido of Corporate Europe Observatory. With just six months to go before November’s COP23 climate negotiations, calls for big polluters to be excluded from the talks are growing.

Last May at the same ‘intersessional’ climate talks in Bonn, a group of countries representing more than 70 percent of the world's population insisted on adding a conflict of interest provision in the negotiating text. It almost made it, were it not for an underhand move by the European Union and the USA which saw it removed.

Pulling the strings behind such moves: the world’s largest fossil fuel companies.

National Association of Manufacturers Attempts 11th Hour Escape from Our Children's Trust Climate Lawsuit

By Dan Zegart, originally published at Climate Investigations Center 

In a last-minute legal maneuver, the National Association of Manufacturers is trying to extricate itself from a closely-watched federal climate lawsuit 18 months after it won a legal battle allowing it to intervene in the case.

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