Table Of Contents

    The Pacific island nation of Kiribati is attempting to balance climate adaptation measures with economic development as rising seas threaten its future. Image courtesy of


    City of Tulsa Serves as Successful Example of Flood Policy Reforms

    The city of Tulsa, Oklahoma has included property buy-outs in its flood prevention efforts over the past 30 years. Strict regulations have been paired with the clearing of 1,000 buildings from flood-prone areas during that period to reduce the risk of recurring flood damage during severe weather events. Bill Robison, the lead engineer on Tulsa’s stormwater program, said, “Typically, after people are flooded two or three times they're ready to sell out.” The Arkansas River and a local network of creeks contributes to Tulsa’s flood vulnerablity. Public outcry for reforms following flooding in the 1970s and 1980s was subdued by lobbying from the development industry, but a deadly 1984 flood resulted in the adoption of an aggressive flood control plan. Tulsa has contructed numerous green spaces, such as public parks, that double as flood basins. Although program fees collected through utility bills remain unpopular, the fact that the city has construction standards better than national criteria has led to significant discounts on flood insurance for residents.

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    Montreal Protocol Amendment Phasing Out HFCs to Enter into Force in 2019

    On November 17, Sweden became the 20th country to ratify the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, ensuring the international agreement would enter into force at the earliest possible date of January 1, 2019. The Kigali Amendment, named for the Rwandan capital where it was formalized in 2016 after seven years of negotiations, would require every nation in the world to phase out the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), a class of highly potent greenhouse gases. The ratification milestone sends a key signal to companies that manufacture HFCs and use them for coolant and other purposes that they will soon have to use alternative compounds. The United States has not yet ratified the treaty, but is one of the leading producers of HFCs in the world. If the United States declines to ratify the Kigali Amendment, it could dampen the ability of American companies to sell products containing HFCs to participating nations. Under the treaty, wealthy nations must begin their phase-out of HFCs by 2019, while developing nations are given a longer timeline.

    For more information see:

    New York Times


    Climate Delegates Announce Modest Progress as Bonn Talks Conclude

    Before the conclusion of international climate talks in Bonn, Germany, the 200 assembled nations agreed to a process for reviewing existing national greenhouse gas reduction commitments. The process, named the “Talanoa Dialogue,” is scheduled to launch in 2018. Delegates also advanced efforts to construct a detailed set of rules governing the implementation of the Paris Agreement. The rule book is on track for completion by December 2018 and will cover issues such as how to monitor and report each country’s emissions. Some delegates urged their colleagues to move more quickly, noting “many areas of work are still lagging behind.” Although the ultimate ambition of the Paris Agreement is to limit the increase in global average temperatures to two degrees Celsius, current policies may only achieve a limit of three degrees C. The Talanoa Dialogues are expected to produce more stringent mitigation plans. Despite negative signals from the Trump administration, observers said the United States made no efforts to disrupt this year’s talks. However, former Obama administration climate diplomat Todd Stern said the diminished United States delegation was “not in the negotiations with the same credibility as before.”

    For more information see:

    Reuters, Politico


    International Adaptation Fund to Play Larger Role in Future Climate Action

    During the latest round of United Nations climate talks in Germany, delegates agreed on designating the Adaptation Fund as an official tool for implementing the Paris Agreement, thus ensuring the fund’s continued existence. The fund originated under the Kyoto Protocol and drew revenue from a $200 million carbon trading mechanism, but income declined as carbon prices fell over the years. Government donors have filled in the gap, with several countries raising more than $93 million in 2017. Paula Caballero of the World Resources Institute said, “This financial institution provides critical support to help developing countries manage climate impacts.” Experts note the Adaptation Fund’s innovative successes, despite its limited budget. The fund has allocated $462 million for projects and supporting activities in 73 developing nations. Funding is delivered to approved government agencies and environmental organizations operating at the local level, addressing issues such as water scarcity and food security. Demand for new projects currently outstrips the fund’s financing capacity.

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    Island Nation of Kiribati Seeks to Balance Adaptation In-Place with Future Relocation

    Projections indicate that the island nation of Kiribati, consisting of 33 coral atolls in the central Pacific, will become uninhabitable as early as 2050 due to climate change impacts. In anticipation, Kiribati’s government purchased 6,000 acres of land in Fiji in 2014 for its citizens to relocate to in the future. More than 80 percent of Kiribati’s land surface would become uninhabitable with a sea level increase of 2.6 feet. However, the country’s current president, Taneti Maamau, has reversed course and is now urging people to stay. Maamau fully acknowledges climate change is affecting his country, but argues that improving the quality of life through economic development and international financing could also increase Kiribati’s capacity to deal with climate impacts. Coconuts, a government-subsidised crop and key source of income for many islanders, are already declining on some outer islands due to drought, flooding, and poor soil quality. There is currently no plan in place for a full-scale relocation of Kiribati’s population to another country.

    For more information see:

    InsideClimate News


    Maine’s Official Response to Ocean Acidification Lags, as Volunteers Pick Up Effort

    Ocean acidification stands to impact Maine’s fishing and shellfishing industries, but state officials have been slow to pursue policy-based defenses. In 2014, a bipartisan panel of experts convened by Maine’s legislature found that ocean acidification posed a significant danger to the state’s fisheries. The panel issued a series of recommendations to policymakers, with many designed to gather additional information for dealing with these issues. However, little work has been done to implement the recommendations. A $3 million bond to fund the collection, monitoring, and assessment of acidification’s impact on wildlife and commercial fisheries failed to make it to a vote, while the legislature declined to endorse the continuation of the advisory panel’s work. A volunteer group of Maine scientists and conservationists have picked up the effort to monitor the changes to the marine ecosystem. Ocean acidification tied to increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide and freshwater runoff from extreme rainfall have contributed to the weakening of stocks of clams, oysters, and other shell-building organisms, which make up 90 percent of Maine’s commercial fish catch.

    For more information see:

    Portland Press Herald



    Report: Rising Cost of Climate-Driven Disasters Could Threaten Insurance Industry Itself

    Nebraska Commission Grants Final Approval to Keystone XL Pipeline Route

    Study: 85 Percent of Americans Express Concern Over Climate Change

    What Are the Next Steps for United Nations Climate Negotiations?

    Interior Department’s Inspector General Declares Climate Change “Most Significant” Challenge for Agency

    Fiji Utilizes Indigenous Knowledge and Traditions in Designing Adaptation Plans


    Events and Briefings


    Briefing Recap: Can Fuel Efficiency Standards Be Met Cost-Effectively? The Potential for High-Octane, Low-Carbon Fuels

    On November 13, the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) held a briefing examining how highoctane, low-carbon fuel can enable CAFE compliance. The event explored research that suggests that high-octane, low-carbon fuel is the lowest-cost compliance option for both consumers and the automotive industry. Speakers included Dr. Robert McCormick, Principal Engineer at the Fuels and Combustion Science Group at NREL; Brian West, Group Leader, Fuels with the Engines, and Emissions Research Group at ORNL; Dean Drake, President of the Defour Group LLC; and Andrew Varcoe, Partner at Boyden Gray & Associates.

    Dr. McCormick emphasized that the main goal needs to be better fuels and better vehicles sooner - which can happen with fuel-engine co-optimization. Fuel-engine co-optimization focuses on making engines more efficient by co-optimizing fuels and engines as a system. Currently, however, the fuels we use constrain engine design. Higher octane fuels would enable the use of technologies to make engines more efficient, and thus improve fuel economy. Renewable, high octane fuels are a top contender. Brian West focused on ethanol and why it is a very effective octane booster. Ethanol has a lower energy content than gasoline, but because its high octane rating allows for more efficient engines, an E25-E40 blend in an optimized car could have the same "tank mileage" as the current E10 blend in today's cars. Dean Drake pointed out that not all vehicles can and will be battery-powered. Some vehicles, such as trucks and airplanes, will continue to need liquid fuel for the foreseeable future. If our vehicle fleet was optimized to run on high octane fuels, we would see average savings of $436 per vehicle. Andrew Varcoe addressed the current mid-term evaluation of the EPA’s greenhouse gas (GHG) standards and NHTSA’s fuel economy standards. In 2012, the administration set efficiency and GHG standards for model years 2017-2025, which require increasingly stringent GHG criteria. Reducing regulatory barriers to higher-octane fuels (particularly ethanol blends) could help carmakers comply with the 2017 - 2025 fuel standards and save drivers money.

    For a full video recording of the briefing and additional materials, visit this link.


    Writer and Editor: Brian La Shier