Table Of Contents

    A new report shows American corporations failed to verify the impact of their beef suppliers on deforestation. Above, a dividing line between agriculture and rainforest in Brazil. Image courtesy of CIFOR via

    Wealthy Nations Coming Up Short in Pledge for $100 Billion in Climate Aid

    A new report projects the world’s wealthiest countries will not meet their goal to raise $100 billion a year by 2020 for climate aid in poorer developing nations. The report, published by the British and Australian governments, forecasted that donor countries will raise only $93 billion annually over the next ten years to fund green energy projects and adaptation efforts in vulnerable regions. UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa is increasing pressure on countries to fulfill their 2009 aid promises as November's international climate summit in Morocco approaches. The report authors stressed “the projection should be considered a conservative, indicative aggregation of public climate finance levels in 2020, rather than a firm prediction," and stated increased private sector support could yield $133 billion in annual funding under a best-case scenario. Jan Kowalzig of Oxfam warned that a rush to involve the private sector could "create an incentive for donor countries to favor mitigation over adaptation as this makes it easier to make the $100 billion.”

    For more information see:

    Climate Change News

    Norwegian Government Faces Lawsuit over Approval of Offshore Oil Exploration

    Greenpeace has partnered with indigenous activists, youth groups, and the former director of NASA's Goddard Institute, James Hansen, to file a lawsuit against the Norwegian government over its decision to allow 13 oil companies to enter the Barents Sea for oil exploration. The Barents Sea would be the most northern point tapped for oil in Norway and would be an expansion of the fossil fuel industry that dissenters say violates not only the Paris Agreement, but also Article 112 of Norway’s constitution, “which guarantees every citizen’s right to a healthy, diverse and productive environment.” Norway has often been touted as the paradigm model of green energy for its use of hydropower and climate neutrality goals. Hansen, however, paints a different picture, stating that “Norway is not all that green. It is burning 70 percent more fossil fuels per person than Sweden, and mining 20 times more fossil fuels than it needs for its own use.”

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    Global Oil Consumption Subsidies Persist Amidst Political and Economic Pressures

    As the international community continues to seek common ground in the fight to mitigate climate change through mechanisms such as the Paris Agreement, fossil fuel subsidies in developing countries are being viewed with increasing skepticism. Consumption subsidies that fix the price of fossil fuels at artificially low levels have been commonplace for decades in developing economies as a means of ensuring domestic political stability. However, a consequence of these subsidies is that consumer behavior tilts toward excessive consumption of fossil fuels, with no incentive to transition to more sustainable behaviors and technologies. Recent estimates project that additional consumption of fossil fuels through consumption subsidies is potentially responsible for over 10 percent of global carbon emissions. Malaysia, Morocco, and India chose to reform their fuel pricing policies following 2014's steep decline in oil prices, but action in other nations has been stayed by special interest groups, street demonstrations, or a fear of public backlash.

    For more information see:

    New York Times

    United Nations Conference on Cities Underscores Obstacles to Sustainability

    During the week of October 17, nations participated in the United Nations-hosted Habitat III conference, which focuses on issues concerning cities and their role in climate change action. The push for urban accountability has gained traction heading into the Paris Agreement’s entry into force in November 2016. Urban areas alone account for 78 percent of global energy consumption and 60 percent of carbon emissions, while covering less than two percent of the planet's surface. Critics of the conference's legally-binding New Urban Agenda pact are concerned that its provisions lack the specificity and targets needed to guide cities into more sustainable practices. Cassidy Johnson, a senior lecturer at University College London, characterized the pact as "a wish list," saying, “There are no targets [the signatories] have to achieve in there. It just seems like the whole thing was a bit haphazard.” Other experts stress the overarching goal of the conference was to simply connect urban revitalization efforts and facilitate dialogue among the pact’s signatories.

    For more information see:

    Christian Science Monitor

    Industry Coalition Calls for International Regulation of Shipping Emissions

    A coalition made up of Maersk, Cargill, the Global Shippers’ Forum, and 45 other shipping organizations are urging the United Nations' International Maritime Organization (IMO) to take "ambitious" action and set the shipping sector’s first climate change targets next week at a London UN meeting. The shipping sector is currently not “subject to any treaty on climate change, country-by-country emissions controls or reduction targets of any kind,” despite emitting up to four percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. China, Brazil, some small island states, and various lobbying groups have argued against imposing emission targets until more data and analysis have been collected and a comprehensive global CO2 monitoring scheme is put in place. The group has also expressed concern about potential taxes or caps on fuel and emissions that could have economic consequences. Proponents of the emission reduction plans have stated that there is enough information known about CO2 emissions and that if the Paris Agreement is to truly deliver, then shipping will have to pay its “fair share” of CO2 reductions.

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    American Corporations Fail to Verify Impact of Beef Suppliers on Deforestation

    A new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) reveals that American beef buyers have been lax in their efforts to reduce deforestation in the Amazon. American companies made a commitment to promoting sustainability in their supply chains by purchasing beef only from deforestation-free farms, but often companies have no way to verify how cattle were raised. The report contends greater transparency and oversight in supply chain purchasing decisions are needed to ensure that loopholes aren’t being exploited. Burger King, ConAgra, Kroger, and Pizza Hut earned the worst scores for failing to determine the environmental impact of their beef. The protection of tropical rainforests can play a large role in meeting the global carbon cuts outlined in the Paris Agreement, according to UCS. Brazil is the world's second largest beef producer. From 1990 to 2005, beef production was responsible for 71 percent of all deforestation in South America.

    For more information see:

    Inside Climate News


    Chemical Industry Merges Profits with Diplomacy in Pursuit of HFC Deal

    Major chemical manufacturers were deeply involved in the passage of the new international agreement to phase out the use of HFCs, a potent greenhouse gas used in air conditioning and refrigeration. The deal, finalized during a United Nations meeting in Rwanda on October 15, is noteworthy in that the industry that will be regulated has fully embraced the proposed rule. Honeywell and Chemours were among the most active private-sector advocates for the agreement, but also have much to gain as the market for HFC replacements gains momentum. Honeywell started developing an alternative to HFCs in the early 2000’s and is poised to cash in on its investment as the new agreement drives demand for the company's next generation of coolants. Several environmental groups argue that industry involvement was too great and limited the ambition of the agreement. Meanwhile, China and India expressed concern that the deal would only further consolidate the global chemical industry and that product prices would rise.

    For more information see:

    New York Times, Reuters


    Study: Climate Change Doubled Lands Damaged by Wildfires in Western United States

    New research published in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences works to quantify the relationship between climate change and recent record-breaking wildfire seasons. The study found that anthropogenic climate change was responsible for doubling the amount of land area burned in the Western United States from 1984 to 2015. Rising temperatures and shifting precipitation patterns due to climate change increase the rate at which plant cells lose moisture, fostering environmental conditions conducive for wildfires. The authors modeled the relationship between temperature and fuel dryness and found all eight simulations "correlate well with fire." Park Williams, a bioclimatologist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, stated the strongest relationship between changing environmental variables and the growing frequency of wildfires was fuel aridity. Williams said, "Every few years we’re kind of entering a new epoch, where the potential for new fires is quite a bit bigger than it was a few years back.”

    For more information see:

    FiveThirtyEight, Study

    Climate Change Could Put an Additional 42 Million People at Risk of Food Shortages

    On October 17, the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) issued a report cautioning that climate change has already begun to jeopardize global food security and that farmers must begin to adapt their growing methods. The report estimates that due to climate impacts, an additional 42 million people will be at risk of going hungry by 2050 and an additional 122 million people may be living in extreme poverty by 2030. More than 60 million people have already faced food shortages this year because of droughts brought about by the El Niño system. Small farmers in developing nations are among the most vulnerable to climate change and are already struggling with poverty. The findings call for increased government intervention, including greater investment to encourage resilient agricultural practices. FAO Director-General, José Graziano da Silva, cited the "moral imperative" for "hunger, poverty and climate change … to be tackled together."

    For more information see:

    Reuters, Washington Post


    Scarcity of Ice and Food Increasing Encounters between Polar Bears and Humans

    Rising sea levels have caused polar bears to encroach further into Alaskan villages in search of food. Ice receding from the continental shelf in the Beaufort Sea has made previously shallow Arctic coastal waters too deep for foraging. Many residents and wildlife activists are concerned for both public safety and how to secure village food supplies going forward. For centuries, native Alaskans have used permafrost freezers to store meat and whale blubber, but are now turning to other, more expensive storage methods to defend food reserves from hungry polar bears. “There’s some evidence that shows that bears that are nutritionally stressed are more bold. It’s not really part of their historical life history to spend extended periods of time on land,” according to U.S. Geological Survey scientist and polar bear researcher, Todd Atwood. Polar bear encounters are projected to increase in frequency and aggression as the Arctic's open water season becomes longer and food becomes scarcer.

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    Motion Filed to Block New York and Massachusetts' Investigation of Exxon Climate Practices

    Defense Department Ignores Sea Level Rise in Constructing $1 Billion Radar Facility on Pacific Atoll

    Mayors of 85 Global Cities Request Access to International Climate Finance Funds

    Report: Drought Can Worsen Existing Conflicts in World's Poorest Regions

    Hottest September Ever Assures 2016 Will Be Hottest Year on Record


    Writers: Sasha Galbreath, Tyler Smith, and Dylan Ruan

    Editor: Brian La Shier