Table Of Contents

    Secretary of State John Kerry became the highest-ranking U.S. official ever to visit Antarctica, where he observed the impacts of climate change first-hand and toured scientific research stations. Image courtesy of the U.S. Department of State via


    Obama Administration Finalizes Rule to Reduce Fugitive Methane Emissions from Fossil Fuel Industry

    On November 15, the Interior Department (DOI) finalized a long awaited regulation looking to rein in fugitive emissions from the oil and natural gas industries. Concerns over methane emissions and wasteful practices led the Obama administration to initiate the rulemaking process. DOI estimates that just from 2009-2015, energy companies flared, vented, or lost enough natural gas to power 6.2 million homes annually. The new rule looks to reduce fugitive methane emissions from natural gas operations on public lands through cutbacks in flaring, increasing the frequency of leak inspections, and case-specific installations of new equipment. Projections estimate that the new regulation will reduce methane emissions by 175,000 to 180,000 tons annually. The new regulations have already drawn stiff resistance from industry groups and Republican lawmakers. Republicans are reportedly considering the use of the 1996 Congressional Review Act to disapprove some of President Obama's environmental regulations. The Act states that Congress may repeal regulatory actions taken within 60 days of the end of a congressional session and within 75 days of the start of a new session.

    For more information see:

    Washington Post


    OMB: Worsening Climate Impacts Could Take Significant Bite Out of Future Federal Budgets

    On November 15, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released a report examining the fiscal costs to the federal government associated with climate change. The report looks at the possible toll on taxpayer funds if the government is forced to cope with projected increases in the frequency and intensity of natural disasters such as droughts, wildfires, hurricanes, and floods. By the end of the century, these severe weather events would cause additional hundreds of billions of dollars to be spent annually on federal funding for disaster relief and rebuilding, combating wildfires, and protecting government facilities from coastal erosion, rising seas, and thawing permafrost. If no actions are taken to mitigate climate change, the report projects that, "The total fiscal impact quantified to-date could be equivalent to as much as 15 percent of total federal discretionary spending by late-century." Keeping global average temperature increases below 2 degrees Celsius (relative to a 4 degree increase) could yield more than $2 trillion (in real terms) in avoided damages annually by 2100.

    For more information see:

    The White House, OMB Report


    Washington, D.C. Releases Climate Adaptation Plan to Prepare for Heatwaves and Flooding

    According to a new report from the District of Columbia's Department of Energy and Environment, the nation's capital will face a greater frequency of heat emergencies, longer durations of heat waves, and heavier rain and flooding in the coming decades. Projections show that D.C.'s current rate of 11 annual heat emergencies will nearly double by 2020 and increase to 75 annual emergencies by 2080. Older residents and individuals who cannot afford to own an air conditioner are among those at greatest risk from the sweltering conditions. The intense heat will also impact D.C.'s infrastructure, since rail lines and many buildings are not designed to consistently function under such high temperatures. Lower-lying areas of the city, such as downtown and Southwest, bridges, and freeways will be at risk of flooding due to sea level rise and more severe precipitation patterns. D.C.'s climate adaptation plan identifies the most vulnerable populations and assets across the city and proposes long-term plans to curtail future climate impacts.

    For more information see:

    DCist, Report


    Global Leaders Reassess Means of Achieving Adaptation Finance Goals in Marrakech

    At the United Nations climate summit in Marrakech, Morocco, more than 50 heads of state discussed ways to raise funds to help the world's most vulnerable regions adapt to climate change impacts. Given the incoming Trump administration's rhetoric against international climate aid, there is concern that the effort may fall short of its goals. To date, the United States has paid only $500 million of the $3 billion it originally promised for the Green Climate Fund, or roughly three percent of the United Nations' Global Environment Facility's (GEF) total climate funding. The GEF's chief executive, Naoko Ishii, said "I'm actually not much concerned about Trump. The climate financing picture is really more diverse," referencing the mix of private sector interests supplementing government spending. UN Special Envoy on Climate Change Mary Robinson said, "In a way the $100 billion [pledge by developed nations] is almost a distraction in amount. We need much more than that. So the most effective thing is how we can ... encourage investment in developing countries [through public money]."

    For more information see:



    Report: Current Emissions Reduction Pledges Fall Short of the Paris Agreement Goal

    The International Energy Agency (IEA), a respected global energy watchdog, released a report cautioning that the Paris climate agreement may fall short if countries fail to increase the ambition of their greenhouse gas emission reductions. The report estimates the current pledged emission reductions would allow global temperatures to exceed the 2 degrees Celsius threshold by 0.7 degree C by the end of this century. IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol called out the need for individual governments to enact policies around the regulatory framework installed by the landmark treaty nearly a year ago. Birol clarified that IEA's projections do not factor in a potentially drastic shift in U.S. climate policy under the Trump administration, stating, "Governments come and go around the world ... and energy policies change with changes in administration. If there are such changes [to U.S. policy], we will include them in our analysis. But for now, it would be premature to speculate on what these policies might be."

    For more information see:



    Proposal Would Screen for Conflicts of Interest, Ban Fossil Fuel Reps from Climate Talks

    On November 16, the United States agreed to officially receive a petition signed by more than 500,000 people to bar fossil fuel lobbyists from future United Nations climate negotiations. The petition, led by Corporate Accountability International, would ban any non-state participant from the summit meetings if they fail to pass a screening for conflicts of interest. The primary advocates for the measure are developing states, who represent a majority of the global population, but whose national GDP may be less than that of some fossil fuel conglomerates. Delegations from the European Union, Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States have pushed back, arguing the climate talks should be open to everyone and no clear definition for "conflict of interest" has been determined. In a statement, Ecuador's delegation defended the proposal, declaring, "Too much is at stake to continue allowing the world's biggest polluters and their agents to undermine [the negotiation] process."

    For more information see:



    International Community Vows to Carry Out Paris Agreement, Despite American Political Upheaval

    While President-elect Trump's campaign promises may hint at a reversal of the climate policies issued under the Obama administration, American negotiators expressed confidence in the strength of the institutional agreements that have been achieved. This sentiment was best expressed by Special Envoy for Climate Change Jonathan Pershing: "Heads of state can and will change, but I am confident that we can and we will sustain a durable international effort to tackle climate change." International colleagues have expressed their appreciation for the work of the U.S. staff over the course of the Marrakech climate summit, with the delegations from China, the European Union, Brazil, Mexico, and Canada reaffirming their commitment to implementing the Paris agreement regardless of the upheaval in the United States. U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz stated, "In the United States an enormous role is played by the states and regions in terms of implementing clean energy and climate polices and there's no suggestion that I know of that there is going to be a profound change in those state, regional and ... city initiatives."

    For more information see:

    Climate Home


    European Union Rejects Call for Carbon Tax on U.S. Imports, Advocates for Carbon Market Instead

    The European Union (EU) Commission and Germany have dismissed calls by former French President Nicolas Sarkozy to implement an import tax on the United States if the incoming administration chooses to back out of the Paris agreement. Sarkozy, who is running in France's 2017 presidential election, proposed a 1-3 percent tax rate. The EU's pushback signals its commitment to an emission trading market to regulate carbon emissions in lieu of a carbon tax. The market issues carbon allowances to companies with the total carbon allowance decreasing each year to spur investment in and adoption of renewable energy technologies. Regulators have cited a need for market reform as emission prices in the market have been slow to drive a transition toward a low-carbon economy. While there are reports that the Trump administration is exploring early exit options from the Paris Agreement, nations such as China, the EU, Canada, and Mexico have reaffirmed their emission reduction commitments.

    For more information see:



    Letter Urging Trump Administration to Decarbonize the U.S. Economy Signed by 365 Companies

    Hundreds of American companies signed a letter asking President-elect Trump to honor the nation's obligations under the Paris climate agreement. The 365 companies and investors argued that by investing in sustainable practices, the incoming administration would help strengthen the economy and spur job creation. The letter was addressed to Trump, President Obama, the U.S. Congress, and delegates at the United Nations climate summit in Morocco. The letter calls for the "continuation of low carbon policies," "investment in the low carbon economy at home and abroad ... to boost the confidence of investors worldwide," and the "continued U.S. participation in the Paris agreement." The diverse list of signatories includes DuPont, Nike, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Intel, Starbucks, and Monsanto. While Trump's specific environmental regulation plans remain unclear, the companies involved pledged their own carbon emissions would continue to decrease. Renewable energy companies are also urgently appealing to Trump's business sensibilities by advertising the industry's employment potential.

    For more information see:

    NY Times, Letter


    Faith-Based Environmental Groups Strive to Engage Congress and Voters on Climate and Conservation

    For faith-based environmental activists, the results of the U.S. presidential election presents a new set of obstacles. Donald Trump's climate skepticism and hostility toward environmental protections conflicts sharply with the faith-based community's belief to act as responsible stewards of the planet and nature. Many fear that the environmental progress achieved under the Obama administration may be lost, but activists such as Shantha Ready Alonso, executive director of Creation Justice Ministries, have remained optimistic: "We operate on faith not fear. And we are not going to assume that views can't change." As evangelical Christians voted for Trump in overwhelming numbers, activists hope to find grounds for engagement with these groups on climate change and the environment. Reverend Mitchell Hescox, president of the Evangelical Environmental Network, believes faith-based environmental groups can work with Congress by redefining issues through a conservative lens. Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb of the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life said, "We will hold the feet of those [elected] officials, irrespective of party, to the fire when it comes to defending creation."

    For more information see:

    Religion News Service



    Secretary of State John Kerry Becomes Highest-Ranking U.S. Official to Visit Antarctica

    State of California Quietly Exploring Ways to Join Paris Agreement if United States Drops Out

    Leaders of 7,100 Cities across 119 Countries Pledge to Cut Emissions by 27 Percent by 2020

    United Kingdom Officially Ratifies Paris Agreement

    Study: Warmer Seas Facilitated Fish Population Boom, Leading to Destruction of Kelp Forest



    EESI Briefing Recap: What Environmental Action Is China Taking After Paris?

    On November 16, EESI and the International Fund for China's Environment (IFCE) held a briefing discussing China's ongoing efforts to implement environmental reforms and take action against climate change. Three environmental professionals from China explored the challenges and progress associated with setting emission reduction policies, implementing national climate targets at the local level, incentivizing supply chain sustainability, and more. The discussion delved into how local and municipal government and industry are balancing national environmental priorities with local needs in China. The distinguished speakers included Jiansheng Qu, Director of the Scientific Information Center for Resources and Environment at the Chinese Academy of Sciences; Lingling Mu, Secretary General of the Tianjin Green Supply Chain Association; and Xinyue Liu, Senior Engineer at the Sichuan Environmental Engineering Appraisal Center.

    For a full video of the event and informational materials, including the slides, connect to the link below:



    District Energy, CHP, Microgrids: Resilient, Efficient Energy Infrastructure

    Tuesday, December 6

    9:30 am - 11:00 am

    Room G50 Dirksen Senate Office Building

    Constitution Avenue and 1st Street, NE

    Cities, communities and campuses throughout the nation are actively seeking more resilient, sustainable energy infrastructure to support economic growth and achieve environmental objectives. District energy microgrids incorporate combined heat and power (CHP) to deliver greater energy efficiency and optimize the use of local resources while strengthening the local and regional power grids.

    The International District Energy Association (IDEA), the Microgrid Resources Coalition (MRC), and the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) are pleased to invite you to a briefing providing policy guidance and showcasing proven technologies and exemplary cases that illuminate the potential for more robust U.S. investment in district energy microgrids.

    The panel of speakers includes Ted Borer, Energy Plant Manager at Princeton University; Jim Lodge, Vice President at NRG Energy; Grant Ervin, Chief Resilience Officer with the City of Pittsburgh; Michael Rooney, Manager of District Energy Initiatives at the University of Pittsburgh Center for Energy; and Rob Thornton, President & CEO of the International District Energy Association.


    A live webcast will be streamed at 9:30 AM EST at (wireless connection permitting)

    RSVP requested


    Writers: Sasha Galbreath and Tyler Smith

    Editor: Brian La Shier