Table Of Contents

    This image shows a project in Ventura County, California, to combat beach erosion and future sea level rise through the creation of a 70 foot wide buffer zone and sediment reservoir. This project took over a decade of talks to appease various stakeholders. Image courtesy of


    White House Issues Veto Threat for Senate Bill that Would Block Clean Power Plan

    On November 17, the White House issued a veto threat against two Senate resolutions which aim to block Environmental Protection Agency regulations on carbon emissions from new and existing power plants. The Senate passed both bills 52-46, mainly along party lines, also on Nov. 17. The resolutions, introduced by Sen. Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel (R-KY), both used the Congressional Review Act, which allows the House or Senate to pass a resolution rejecting a recent regulation on a single majority vote. As the resolutions passed without enough votes to overturn a presidential veto, the effort is primarily symbolic, and sends a message about the Senate's feelings on President Obama's climate policies as the United States prepares to participate in climate negotiations in Paris beginning Nov. 30.

    For more information see:

    Politico, Reuters

    EPA Proposes Stronger Cross-State Air Pollution Regulations

    On November 16, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed an update to the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) to address interstate air quality impacts and help states comply with the 2008 ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). The updates would place tougher new limits on summertime nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions from smokestacks in 23 eastern states that contribute to downwind ozone air quality problems, which react in the atmosphere to form smog. “[The] proposed CSAPR Update Rule will reduce NOx emissions from power plants in the East by 85,000 tons in 2017 compared to projections without the rule,” EPA said in a statement. The rule is expected to be finalized next year and would go into effect in 2017.

    For more information see:

    Detroit Free Press, Press Release, EPA

    GAO Report Lists Lessons from the Private Sector on Preparing for Climate Change

    On November 19, the Government Accounting Office (GAO) released a report examining how businesses are preparing for climate change, which contained findings from a July 21, 2015 GAO forum discussion on opportunities and actions regarding business-related climate risks. The July forum convened 24 leaders from the private sector, government agencies, local governments, academia, national academies, and nonprofits. Together, the group identified climate risks to infrastructure, operations, and supply chains, and suggested that partnerships to leverage resources to building resilience, more information about risks, and a collective goal, would all be helpful steps in mitigating risks. The report follows a February 2015 GAO report which found that the federal government has fiscal exposure to climate change impacts in many areas.

    For more information see:


    Senate Republicans Write to White House, Introduce Resolution to Oppose International Climate Deal

    On November 18, Senators James Inhofe (R-OK) and John Barrasso (R-WY) led 37 senators in writing to President Obama to oppose any international deal on climate coming out of the Paris United Nations climate negotiations beginning Nov. 30. In their letter, the senators also said they were against providing $3 billion to support efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change in developing countries, and asked that the President direct his lead climate diplomat Todd Stern to inform the conference that the United States will provide no climate finance. The letter states, "We pledge that Congress will not allow U.S. taxpayer dollars to go to the Green Climate Fund until the forthcoming international climate agreement is submitted to the Senate for its constitutional advice and consent."

    In related news on November 19, Senators James Inhofe (R-OK), Roy Blunt (R-MO), and Joe Manchin (D-WV) introduced a nonbinding resolution stating that the United States should not follow an international deal on climate unless the Senate approves it. "The international community needs to be aware that the U.S. Congress and the American people do not support President Obama's international climate agenda," Sen. Inhofe said in a statement.

    For more information see:

    The Guardian, Press Release, Letter, The Hill


    House Democrats Hold Forum to Support International Climate Deal

    On November 19, the House Energy and Commerce Committee Democrats and some members of the House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition (SEEC) convened a forum to hear from representatives of Rwanda, the Seychelles, the Netherlands, and France about their expectations for upcoming talks. Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA), vice chairman of SEEC, stated that he also aimed to "reassure" the foreign representatives that some in Congress are supportive of an international deal on climate. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) commented, "It's a very frustrating time in Congress right now, know what we could do and not being able to do it because there are so many of our colleagues on the other side of the aisle who deny the fact of climate change."

    For more information see:

    The Hill, SEEC


    Science Committee Chair Continues to Request Emails from Climate Scientists at NOAA

    On November 20, Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology sent a subpoena to Department of Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker requesting email communications from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) climate scientists. This is Chairman Smith's seventh request for the climate scientists' emails. Ranking Member of the Science Committee Eddie Bernice Johnson wrote a letter in response to Chairman Smith's request, stating that his request was a "fishing expedition." Johnson added, "This isn't oversight. It's grandstanding and harassment of a respected scientist."

    For more information see:

    Science Committee (Republicans), Washington Post, Eddie Bernice Johnson Letter

    Arkansas Can Meet Clean Power Plan Requirements with Little to No Rate Hikes

    On November 18, the Advanced Energy Economy Institute released report findings that Arkansas, which sources more than half its electricity from coal-fired power plants, would see minimal or no impact on its electricity bills from compliance with the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Clean Power Plan (CPP) regulations on carbon emissions from existing power plants. "Based on the scenarios examined in this paper, it is clear that carbon mitigation need not impose significant costs to ratepayers," the report says. The report used a model called the State Tool for Electricity Emissions Reduction (STEER) to study different ways Arkansas could comply with the CPP. Arkansas is part of a multi-state lawsuit against the Clean Power Plan.

    For more information see:

    Arkansas News, AEE

    Paris Will Still Host COP21 This Month with Increased Security

    On November 14, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius announced the United Nations’ (UN) 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) on climate change will proceed as planned this month, with increased security as a result of the deadly attacks that took place the night before in Paris. “This is an absolutely necessary step in the battle against climate change and of course it will take place,” said Laurent Fabius. French Energy Minister Segolene Royale added that COP21 must proceed, or "terrorism wins." Sources close to former French president Nicolas Sarkozy said he had been considering asking for the conference to be postponed, but decided against it after speaking with President Francois Holland. The UN expects 60,000 people to attend the conference, including 120 world leaders. There have been no signs of delegations and world leaders canceling their attendance. Outdoor marches have been cancelled, but indoor events are still approved.

    For more information see:

    Bloomberg, Yahoo


    Leaders at G-20 Summit Commit to Two Degrees Celsius Warming Limit Target

    On November 16, the group of 20 (G-20) leader's summit in Antalya, Turkey drew to a close, with leaders committing to support a successful climate deal at Paris climate talks and committing to keep global average temperature rise to below two degrees Celsius. However, according to reports, the summit could not agree on including provisions for review of national commitments on greenhouse gas reductions, or climate finance commitments, in the G-20 statement. Reporters said that India and Saudi Arabia, in particular, resisted including climate commitments in the G-20 summary. The Wall Street Journal quoted a senior European Union official as saying, "Just simply to state that climate change is a common problem that needs collective action led to hours of discussion." French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius defended the final G-20 summary, saying it was an improvement on previous drafts.

    For more information see:

    The Wall Street Journal, International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development, The White House


    More S&P 500 Companies Are Working on Climate Change

    On November 16, CDP released its 2015 climate change report, showing more S&P 500 companies are actively working to manage climate change in their business and hold their executives accountable for energy efficiency. In its research, CDP compared 2015 survey responses to 2010, from 1,799 companies in 51 countries, representing 55 percent of the market capitalization of publicly-listed companies. In the past five years, corporate board level responsibility for climate change has increased from 67 to 95 percent, while initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions have increased from 52 to 96 percent. The findings show a shift in the private sector, with more businesses voluntarily responding to climate change and confidently investing in a low-carbon future. "This change is being driven independent of a policy framework and not to comply with something," said Lance Pierce, president of CDP North America. "It's a recognition of the future."

    For more information see:

    CNBC, CDP Report

    Global Climate Finance Increasing, Especially with Renewable Energy Support

    On November 16, a report from the Climate Policy Initiative (CPI) entitled Global Landscape of Climate Finance 2015 found that global climate finance reached at least $391 billion in 2014, an 18 percent increase from 2013. Both public and private climate finance increased, with most of the money raised (72 percent of the total) spent domestically in the country it originated in. The report lists a 26 percent increase in renewable energy investments as a major reason for the jump in private climate finance. Despite the increases, the report says a further investment of $16.5 trillion between 2015 and 2030 is needed to meet the 2 degrees Celsius target. Climate finance is “going in the right direction,” says CPI senior director Barbara Buchner, but “more needs to happen,” noting the lack of substantial investments in adaptation.

    For more information see:

    Climate Policy Initiative (1, 2), Reuters

    Some Airlines Emitting Far More Greenhouse Gases

    On November 16, the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) released a new report comparing the fuel efficiency (which directly correlates to carbon intensity) of the top airlines on transatlantic routes between the United States/Canada and Europe in 2014. ICCT found that British Airways, SAS, and Lufthansa were the least fuel-efficient airlines, burning 44 to 51 percent more fuel per passenger kilometer than Norwegian Air Shuttle, the market leader in fuel efficiency. "It’s surprising to see such large differences in fuel efficiency among airlines on long-haul flights over the Atlantic. The airline you fly, and the aircraft they choose to operate, really matters if you’re concerned about the climate," said ICCT's program director for aviation and coauthor, Dan Rutherford. The report cited two reasons for the efficiency difference: whether a company had invested in new, advanced aircraft or was flying older planes; and whether a plane had a lot of larger spaced, premium seating.

    For more information see:

    The Guardian, ICCT Report



    The Koch Intelligence Agency

    Vox Examines the Link Between Terrorism and Climate Change

    Portland, Oregon Votes to Ban New Fossil Fuel Infrastructure in the City

    China Wants Binding International Climate Deal

    Report Says Global Coal Consumption Peaked in 2013

    139 Countries Could Get All their Power from Renewable Sources

    UCS Releases Tool to Identify Communities at Risk from Sea Level Rise


    Authors: Gabriela Zayas, James Richmond, Laura Small

    Editor: Laura Small