Table Of Contents

    The Paris Climate Agreement officially entered into force on November 4. The 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties will be held in Marrakech, Morocco from November 7-18. Photo courtesy of Yann Caradec via


    White House Announces New Collaborations to Help Local Communities Improve Climate Resilience

    On October 31, the White House Council on Climate Preparedness and Resilience released a new report highlighting opportunities for cross-government collaboration on climate resilience. The "Resilience Opportunities Report" seeks to improve the climate resiliency of communities throughout the United States across three themes: 1) advancing and applying science-based information, 2) further integrating resilient practices within federal operations and culture, and 3) supporting community efforts to enhance climate resilience. The objective of the initiative is to increase coordination among federal agencies and empower communities to pursue climate resilient strategies. Over the past ten years, the federal government suffered $357 billion in damages associated with extreme weather and wildfire events, with such risks projected to grow in future decades. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy also announced its public-private partnership project, "Resilience Dialogues," designed to increase the usability of climate data and facilitate interactions between resilience subject-matter experts and local policymakers.

    For more information see:

    The White House, Report


    Washington State's Carbon Tax Draws Nervous Eye of Coal Industry

    Grass-roots activists in the Pacific Northwest are opening a new fight against the coal industry, with reverberations felt across the country. In addition to preventing energy companies from operating coal export terminals along the Pacific coast, local activists in Washington State have introduced a carbon emissions tax as a ballot initiative for the November election. The proposal would feature a tax of $25 per ton of carbon dioxide emissions and provide rebates to low-income families to counter any rise in electricity costs. The ambitious action has caught the attention of energy experts outside the region, including Harvard economist Gregory Mankiw, who called the carbon tax "the right step to a global solution." Meanwhile, coal executive Robert Murray dismissed the Washington activists as "radicals" and vowed to shift his blocked coal export business to Canada. If passed, the Washington ballot initiative would be the first state-wide tax on carbon emissions in the United States.

    For more information see:

    New York Times


    More Frequent, Severe Storms Could Devastate Vulnerable U.S. Public Housing Stock

    As climate change amplifies the intensity of storms, many vulnerable populations are being forced to relocate as a result of prolonged recovery efforts. One example of this migration trend is the Florida town of Punta Gorda, which is still reeling from when Hurricane Charley hit the area 12 years ago. The hurricane destroyed public housing structures to a point that they were still being rebuilt up until late 2016. Federal law used to require a one-to-one replacement ratio for every public housing unit that was demolished or destroyed, but that requirement was lifted by Congress in 1998 – a reality that many speculate will further exacerbate the affordable housing shortage. According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the United States loses 10,000 units of public housing each year. Courtney Rice, with housing insurer HAI, said, "If this trend in severe weather continues, taking away more housing units from this already underserved population, there won't be a sufficient number of units left."

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    City of Detroit Leverages Scientific Data to Formulate a Climate Adaptation Plan

    A combination of historical data and community engagement is at the forefront of Detroit's effort to adapt to the region's changing climate. The Detroit Climate Action Collaborative, a coalition of public and private entities, is utilizing data and models from the Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessments Program (GLISA) to design policy recommendations to be published by the end of 2016. Detroit has experienced significant climate impacts, such as flooding due to increased precipitation and vulnerability to heat-related illnesses. The data will allow local city planners to develop more targeted adaptation plans suited to the needs and conditions of modern-day Detroit. Kimberly Hill Knott, director of policy with Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice, said, "We believe that effectively addressing climate change will require an all hands on deck approach. There's a role for everyone—for city government, for local government, for residents, for businesses and institutions, and the public health sector."

    For more information see:

    Model D

    Bangladesh Hopes to See Progress on "Loss and Damage" Discussions at Climate Summit

    Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will present a national adaptation plan during the United Nations climate summit in Morocco in an attempt to spark dialogue on financing. "Loss and damage" has long been a sticking point in negotiations and was formally recognized for the first time in the Paris Agreement. Loss and damage comes into play when climate-induced natural disasters breach conventional adaptation infrastructure, such as sea walls, and cause devastation in regions that lack the resources to recover on their own. Countries have been resistant to providing additional funding streams for loss and damage and uncertainty surrounds the financing question heading into the summit. Saleemul Huq, who authored the Bangladeshi proposal, said, "When [climate negotiators] talked about loss and damage, [developed countries] heard liability and compensation, which are taboo words, but I think we have moved on.” Bangladesh has received praise for its allocation of $100 million annually in its national budget since 2009 for responding to domestic climate emergencies.

    For more information see:

    Climate Home


    African Nations Concerned Initial Climate Commitments May Have Been Overly Ambitious

    Some African nations are beginning to express concern that they may have been too ambitious in their commitments to the Paris Climate Agreement and may have to scale back their plans. Chukwumerije Okereke, a professor at Reading University, said, "I detect a sense of skepticism and buyer’s remorse from a number of African countries. The process through which many of these INDCs were written was seriously fraught with error, with minimal stakeholder consultation, data gathering, and analysis." For example, Nigeria pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent with external support, but the country’s electric grid capacity falls far short of what it would need to deliver on its Paris commitments and still meet its population's growing electricity demands. The concerns over the design, implementation, and funding of African countries' national climate commitments has been raised as a priority for discussion at the United Nations' climate summit in Morocco, starting on November 7.

    For more information see:

    Climate Home


    Renewables Figure Prominently in Africa's Future Energy Infrastructure

    Technological innovations and global trends may position Africa to largely bypass carbon-intensive electricity sources and move directly into a clean energy future instead. Factors such as the increasing unreliability of hydropower due to droughts, volatile oil prices, and increasingly cost-competitive renewable energy technologies are poising the continent for a clean energy revolution. This is especially important for international climate change mitigation efforts, as Africa is set to experience rapid population growth and will account for a greater share of global emissions. South Africa is one country that has been aggressively pursuing renewable energy by building 100 wind and solar projects over the last four years. Morocco is another nation leading the way and has committed to generate 42 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020. However, efforts have been hindered by the inability of nations to acquire the necessary funding due to concerns over government corruption and political instability. Energy development companies, governments, and international organizations are all working to attract private investment in Africa.

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    Clinton Campaign Talks Climate in Appeal to Florida's Hispanic Voters

    Climate change is a major concern for Florida's Latino population, with 54 percent citing climate as an "extremely or very important" issue, per a 2015 Stanford University study. However, only 13 percent of voters nationally name climate change as a top priority when voting, regardless of their stance on the issue. In light of these findings, Hillary Clinton is ramping up efforts to draw attention to climate change while campaigning in Florida in an appeal to Hispanic voters. Hispanics comprise 15 percent of Florida's electorate and account for 88 percent of the Democratic Party’s overall growth in the last decade. Jon Krosnick of Stanford views a climate-oriented Florida strategy as wise, stating, “[Climate change is] the only issue I’ve ever seen where if a candidate takes an explicit position on one side of the issue, it significantly enhances the number of voters who are attracted to them and inspired by them.”

    For more information see:

    Scientific American


    Report: Window to Prevent Warming Greater than 1.5 Degrees Celsius Will Close Within Three Years

    The United Nations Environment Program's annual "emissions gap" report warns nations must significantly cut their emissions by 2020 or the window to keep global warming from surpassing the 1.5 degrees Celsius mark will be closed. The report documents the ambition gap between emission reduction steps countries have committed to and what is actually necessary to curtail the worst effects of climate change. According to the report, "[The next three years are] likely the last chance to keep the option of limiting global warming to 1.5 C in 2100 open, as all available scenarios consistent with the 1.5 C goal imply that global greenhouse gases peak before 2020." The analysis is the first to scrutinize the pledges contained in the Paris Agreement within the context of the latest 1.5 C goal. Under the existing agreement, global emissions would risk exceeding the carbon budget to prevent greater than 2 C of warming and would be well over the 1.5 C threshold.

    For more information see:

    Inside Climate News, Report


    Sea Level Rise Threatens the Southeastern Coastal Forests

    Rising seas are expected to devastate coastal forests and jeopardize the ecosystem's survival within this century. The freshwater-dependent forests are becoming increasingly accessible to salt water, which has left scientists concerned about the many species reliant upon these habitats. In their place, invasive salt-tolerant plants are growing and displacing the native vegetation. Due to the low-lying elevation of the southern United States, these areas are among the most vulnerable to salt-water intrusion due to rising sea levels. So called "ghost forests" have appeared in Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland. David Kaplan, a watershed ecologist at the University of Florida, has grouped these coastal forest areas into three categories: "healthy," "stressed," and "remnant," with the two latter damaged categories on the rise. Kaplan and his colleagues hope to increase awareness among land managers and policy makers to ensure appropriate action is taken to protect coastal ecosystems.

    For more information see:

    Environment 360


    Spain Could Face Desertification and Agricultural Disruptions if 1.5 C Threshold Is Crossed

    Researchers simulating four different carbon emission scenarios in Spain are projecting a country that is dramatically different than it is today. The study’s researchers urged Spain to take measures to immediately reduce its carbon emissions and achieve decarbonization by 2050. Unless global atmospheric warming is limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius, Spain could see an expansion of its desert and a die-off of deciduous trees. The globe has warmed roughly 1 degree Celsius since the dawn of the industrial revolution. This has led to an overall warming of 1.3 degrees Celsius in the Mediterranean region. An extra 0.5 degrees of global warming, though small, would have significant consequences for the vegetation in Spain and its immediate Mediterranean surroundings. The study did not look specifically at the implication of climate change for food production, but noted that warming in the region could have a negative impact on olive crops and the production of other Mediterranean cuisine staples.

    For more information see:

    CS Monitor


    Geoengineering Gains Traction as a Global Climate Mitigation Option

    A new report commissioned by the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity has significant implications for the future of geoengineering for climate change mitigation. The Convention has approached geoengineering with caution until a sufficient governance system is put in place to oversee the development and implementation of such measures. Geoengineering measures may involve seeding the ocean with nutrients to help coral ecosystems adapt, or disbursing particulates into the atmosphere to reflect solar radiation. Geoengineering has been tenuously pursued as a mitigation policy due to the uncertainty of its long-term effects. The report acknowledges the environmental, political, and economic risks associated with geoengineering, but suggests the methods have merit if potential side-effects can be identified and minimized. According to Phil Williamson, a report author at the University of East Anglia, greenhouse gas removal technologies will be necessary to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement: “Climate geoengineering is what countries have agreed to do [in the Paris Agreement], although they haven’t really realized that they’ve agreed to do it.”

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    Former SEC Chair: Fossil-Fuel Corporations Should Improve Disclosure of Climate Risks for Their Investors

    China's Top Climate Negotiator Criticizes Trump's Climate Change Denial

    Wastewater Treatment Plants May Contribute 23 Percent More Greenhouse Gas Emissions than Previously Thought

    Old Sea Ice, a Mainstay of the Arctic, Beginning to Weaken and Melt

    Secure Land Tenure for Indigenous Peoples Can Conserve Forests and Prevent Carbon Emissions


    Writers: Sasha Galbreath, Tyler Smith, Dylan Ruan, and Brian La Shier
    Editor: Brian La Shier