Table Of Contents

    An industry group representing 3,500 European utility sector companies announced they will place a moratorium on the construction of new coal-fired power plants after the year 2020. Photo courtesy of Sebastian Schlüter via

    Seventeen Republican House Members Sign Resolution Vowing to Act on Climate Change

    Seventeen Republican House members have signed a resolution entitled “Expressing the Commitment of the House of Representatives to Conservative Environmental Stewardship,” which recognizes that humans have contributed to climate change and calls for "economically viable … and broadly supported private and public solutions." While the Republican base may disagree with increased government regulation on environmental issues, the members of Congress who signed the resolution recognize the need for action on this critical issue. First-term Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL) stated, "[Climate change] is such a big issue that it should not be taken lightly on any side of the aisle." Conservative support for climate action is increasing and the congressional backing of the “eco-Right,” an array of new policy groups including RepublicEn, R Street, and the Niskanen Center, suggests a promising future for bipartisan climate action. Other Republicans have taken action as well, such as through the establishment of a Climate Solutions Caucus, a bipartisan group that seeks to determine economically and socially viable solutions to climate change.

    For more information see:

    Climate Change News

    EPA Staff Concerns about HONEST Act Silenced by EPA Leadership

    On March 29th, the House passed the Honest and Open New EPA Science Treatment Act of 2017 (H.R. 1430). The bill would require any data used by EPA to be "publicly available online and reproducible," in effect, vastly limiting the quantity and types of studies that could be done by the agency. Meeting the proposed data standards would impose an additional operating cost of up to $250 million on EPA. Though many agency staff members spoke out against the bill, their concerns did not reach the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Reportedly, EPA's Office of the Administrator instead chose to send a response to CBO saying “no cost, no comment.” EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has previously vowed to change the culture of the agency and “base actions on sound science, rather than ideological convictions.” According to Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, “Any efforts to suddenly limit the data the EPA uses to keep Americans safe is nonsensical and, frankly, irresponsible.”

    For more information see:


    Trump’s Budget Would Greatly Diminish EPA Vehicle Testing

    The Trump Administration's proposed budget would slash EPA's funding for vehicle emission and fuel economy testing by $48 million, while levying higher fees on manufacturers to fund the program. This cut would eliminate more than 50 percent of the staff in the Federal Vehicle and Fuels Standards and Certification program, which conducts the vehicle emission standard testing and verification. The department's work helped discover Volkswagen’s emission-detection cheat. “This is an effort to shut down the operations of the Office of Transportation and Air Quality,” said Margo Oge, the office's former director under the Obama administration. Jeff Holmstead, a former assistant administrator at the EPA, downplayed the concern that funding the program with industry fees would disrupt its primary functions, stating that Congress would be unlikely to approve a plan that would hurt manufacturers' ability to sell automobiles. “That’s unacceptable to industry and to the EPA. An awful lot of economic activity depends on their ability to get certificates of conformity.”

    For more information see:

    Bloomberg, Reuters


    European Utilities to Place Moratorium on New Coal-Fired Power Plant Construction Post-2020

    On April 5, a trade association representing 3,500 electric utility industry companies across Europe declared they will no longer build new coal-fired power plants after 2020. The national energy companies for 26 European Union countries have also signed on, with the exception of Greece and Poland. The board of directors for the group, Eurelectric, announced in a press release, "This commitment to decarbonize electricity generation, together with the electrification of key sectors, such as heating, cooling and transport, will make a major contribution to help Europe meet its climate change targets [under the Paris Agreement]." Eurelectric's secretary general, Kristian Ruby, added, "Europe’s energy companies are putting their money where their mouths are." Coal industry representatives expressed skepticism toward the news, stating further advances in energy storage and affordability are needed before a shift away from "conventional sources" can take place. New coal plant construction fell by nearly two-thirds worldwide in 2016.

    For more information see:

    Inside Climate News, Guardian


    Asia Pacific Braces for Crises on Multiple Fronts as Future Climate Impacts Loom

    International security experts warn that climate change is a “threat multiplier” for global security. The increasing severity and frequency of extreme weather has already begun to exacerbate refugee crises emanating from unstable, water-scarce regions. According to Sherri Goodman, a former U.S. deputy undersecretary of defense, the Asia Pacific region is at especially high risk because countries will experience the direct climate impacts of extreme weather and the indirect impacts in the form of climate refugees. Australia is expected to experience worsening drought conditions while potentially taking in thousands of displaced people from low-lying Pacific countries. Goodman explains that “another extreme weather event, combined with sea-level rise and storm surge, could send upwards of 10 million people or more along that low-lying coastline in Bangladesh fleeing … towards India, which is building a massive wall to keep Bangladeshis out.” In Africa and the Middle East, drought is aggravating “tensions and conflicts that already exist,” as terrorist groups take “advantage of desperate people in desperate circumstances.”

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    Cities That Sacrificed Natural Buffers for Rapid Growth Now Face Stark Climate Impacts

    The environmental consequences of Guangzhou, China's torrid rate of development over the last two decades has come into focus as climate change introduces severe disruptions to the region. Southern China's Pearl River Delta is home to a large industrial base, numerous cities, and a population of 42 million. However, the previously agriculture-rich region is highly vulnerable to flooding due to the presence of three rivers, their tributaries, and the South China Sea. According to a World Bank report, the cities of Guangzhou and Shenzhen face the greatest economic risk from climate change, as a measure of gross domestic product. The impacts threaten not only the region's residents and industries, but also the stakeholders who rely upon the products manufactured and exported from there. In Shenzhen, over 70 percent of the mangrove forests, which serve as natural defenses against water threats, were removed for development. Liang Bo, with the Shenzhen Mangrove Wetlands and Conservation Foundation, observed, "Most of the people who live here now weren’t around when the mangroves were still here. They see this park, which makes us more vulnerable to rising seas and typhoons, as they do all the tall buildings and highways. They equate it with progress."

    For more information see:

    New York Times


    United Nations Climate Finance Body Faces Pushback on Large Hydro Projects

    The managing board of the United Nations' Green Climate Fund (GCF) approved funding for three large hydroelectric projects in Nepal, the Solomon Islands, and Tajikistan, drawing a harsh rebuke from environmental activists. In a letter of opposition shared with the press, a coalition of organizations claim that the Tajikistan project would prop up a failing Soviet-era dam; the Solomon Islands development would destroy biodiverse forest habitat; and the Nepalese site would purportedly "face severe climate and disaster risks" and threaten indigenous communities. International development agencies classify hydropower as renewable energy, but critics say decision makers overlook large hydro's greenhouse gas footprint and landscape impacts. On April 4, the GCF's 24-member board approved eight projects valued at $755 million. However, a $100 million project to aid drought-stricken farmers in Ethiopia did not achieve consensus, opening a debate between a U.S.-led bloc and the African delegations. Observers at the meeting stated "donor countries were displaying an ideological preference for large scale infrastructure projects, rather than ones that build resilience within communities."

    For more information see:

    Climate Home, Guardian


    Despite Trump's Statements, Utility Companies Are Still Looking Beyond Coal

    Even though President Trump signed an executive order to roll back the Obama Administration’s climate change directives, electric utility companies remain unconvinced that the new administration’s efforts will yield a resurgence for coal. In a survey conducted by Reuters of 32 utilities operating in the 26 states that sued to halt the Clean Power Plan, the majority indicated they have no plans to adjust their multi-billion dollar shift away from coal. The utilities believe that no matter what the president does, the demand for coal will continue to fall. “I’m not going to build new coal plants in today’s environment,” said Ben Fowke, CEO of Xcel Energy. The trend is largely driven by economics, as relatively inexpensive natural gas is plentiful and renewable energy costs continue to drop. The survey also found that utility executives still plan on retiring coal power plants, possibly at a slower pace, but do not plan on building new ones. According to Jairo Chung, an associate vice president at Moody’s Investors Service, “This is not an environmentally driven trend. What we are seeing now is in the interior of the U.S., where wind is very rich, states and utilities are pushing ahead in investing in it.”

    For more information see:

    Reuters, New York Times


    Study: Warming Climate Could Lead to a Bumpier Ride for Airline Travelers

    According to a new study in the journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences, climate change could lead to a spike in air turbulence along the North Atlantic jet stream. The warming air would influence the types of wind patterns found to produce turbulence in that part of the world. If current atmospheric carbon dioxide levels hold steady, "light" turbulence could increase by an average of 59 percent, while "severe" turbulence could increase from 36 to 188 percent by mid-century. Light turbulence may be a source of mild discomfort for flight passengers, but severe turbulence can lead to serious injuries. The overall increase in turbulence would increase aircraft wear and tear and result in greater fuel consumption. Kristopher Karnauskas, an atmospheric science expert at the University of Colorado at Boulder, said, "If we can really understand the two-way street that we’re dealing with [for aviation], that’s really going to help us understand ultimately how the climate will change in the future as a coupled system between the people and the atmosphere."

    For more information see:

    Washington Post


    Climate Change Is Threatening Species on a Scale Not Foreseen by Scientists

    Recent studies reveal that climate change is harming ecosystems in more widespread and fundamental ways than scientists previously understood. Changes in seasonal patterns and other natural cycles has impacted 74 different ecological processes of species including genetics, migration behavior, population distribution, and physical traits. Woodland salamanders in the Appalachian Mountains are become smaller and the offspring of Arctic red knots are being born with diminished bills, causing a significant disadvantage for survival. Even when a particular species survives a transition, these changes can have devastating effects on the ecosystem. “In many instances genetic diversity is being lost due to climate change,” explains Bret Scheffers of the University of Florida. “It is important to not confuse species responses and adaptation as an indicator that everything will be okay.” Scientists warn that these disruptions to the ecological balance ultimately harms humans because we rely on healthy ecosystems to maintain our personal and economic welfare.

    For more information see:




    Congress Passes Bipartisan Bill to Improve Forecasting for Extreme Weather Events

    State Appeals Court Upholds California's Cap and Trade Program

    As Climate Warms, Water Infrastructure in Rural Alaskan Communities Is at Risk

    U.S. Coal Executives Urge Trump to Remain in the Paris Climate Agreement

    Poll: Over 70 Percent of Voters Disagree with Budget Cuts to Climate Research


    Events and Briefings


    Briefing: How Foreign Climate Aid Benefits the United States

    Tuesday, April 11
    3:00 pm - 4:30 pm
    485 Russell Senate Office Building
    Constitution Avenue and 1st Street, NE

    The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) and the Henry M. Jackson Foundation invite you to a briefing discussing benefits to the United States from deploying foreign aid to vulnerable regions to help them become more resilient to climate change impacts. The briefing will also explore the inner workings of the Green Climate Fund (GCF), a multi-lateral effort to mobilize $100 billion in public and private financing for adaptation and mitigation projects in developing nations. Financial assistance for vulnerable countries is one of the most powerful tools available to the international community in reducing the risks posed by severe weather disruptions connected to drought, flooding, and food insecurity. 
    Speakers for the event include Dr. James Bond, former Senior Advisor to the Executive Director at the Green Climate Fund; Brad Johnson, President at Resource Mobilization Advisors; and Anton Hufnagl, Environmental and Urban Affairs Officer at the Embassy of Germany.

    This event is free and open to the public. Please RSVP to expedite check-in.

    A live webcast will be streamed at 3:00 PM EDT at (wireless connection permitting).

    Writers: Emma Dietz, Ben Topiel, Andrew Wollenberg, and Brian La Shier
    Editor: Brian La Shier