Table Of Contents

    President Trump signed an executive order opening the door to new offshore oil and gas drilling in the future, rolling back environmental safeguards put in place by the Obama administration. Photo courtesy of catmoz via


    Trump Signs Executive Order to Overturn Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling Ban

    On April 28, President Trump signed an executive order to re-open offshore drilling for oil and natural gas in U.S. waters. The order sweeps away environmental protections installed by the Obama administration under the 1953 Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, which allows the sitting president to impose a permanent drilling ban across vast stretches of the ocean floor. Though the Trump administration can legally overturn the ban, Jason B. Hutt of the law firm Bracewell notes, "We're in uncharted waters. There is precedent for a president to narrow or modify drilling restrictions, but not to undo a ban, because there's never been a ban." The move will draw significant legal action, with western states already signaling their opposition to new offshore leasing. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said, "California will fight this every step of the way." Environmental watchdogs are particularly concerned about prospective Arctic drilling, stating the dangerous conditions and remote sites make these operations too risky given the potential damage.

    For more information see:

    New York Times, Los Angeles Times


    Energy Secretary Publicly Backs Continued U.S. Participation in Paris Agreement

    High-ranking officials within the Trump administration remain divided over whether the United States should remain party to the Paris Climate Agreement. On April 25, Energy Secretary Rick Perry said, "I'm not going to tell [President Trump] to walk away from the Paris accord. I will say that we need to renegotiate it." White House advisor Jared Kushner and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have advocated for continuing with the treaty, while EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and White House advisor Steve Bannon are against. Germany's environment ministry spokesman Michael Schroeren responded to Perry's comments, calling a renegotiation "absurd" and "completely unnecessary," referring to the fact that treaty participants are already permitted to adjust their own emission targets. A State Department memo obtained by the press and circulated before a deliberative White House meeting on Paris concluded that the treaty "imposes few obligations on the United States," but stopped short of making a formal recommendation. The White House has indicated it will reach a decision by late May, in time for the G7 summit in Italy.

    For more information see:

    Bloomberg (Perry), Bloomberg (Memo), Bloomberg (Germany)


    World's Most Climate-Vulnerable Nations Urge G20 to Phase-Out Fossil Fuel Subsidies

    On April 23, at the Climate Vulnerable Forum in Washington, DC, 49 of the countries most endangered by climate change called upon G20 members to set a target date for phasing out fossil fuel subsidies. Advocates are urging the larger group of 20 to follow the lead of the G7 nations, which have already set their own deadline for a phase-out. The coalition of vulnerable countries issued a letter outlining their position and calling for the elimination of the subsidies by 2020. Advocates said that fossil fuel subsidies could only truly be justified if they provided "real benefits to the poor." The G20 states will hold their next meeting in Hamburg, Germany in July 2017. The group represents the world's 20 largest economies and reportedly spends $160-200 billion annually in support of the fossil fuel industry, though this is considered a "conservative" estimate. The German presidency is expected to make climate change a priority for the session.

    For more information see:

    Climate Change News


    India's Energy Development Ambitions Swing from Coal to Renewables

    India's energy infrastructure development policies have rapidly shifted away from coal-fired power plants to renewable energy. A 2016 study by the International Energy Agency estimated India would be unable to meet its emission reduction goals under the Paris Agreement due to planned investments in coal power, but the Indian government has since altered course. Projects consisting of roughly 50 GW of new coal capacity have been either paused or simply left inactive. Instead, India is pursuing the addition of 275 GW of renewable energy by 2027. India is responsible for around 4.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and has pledged to draw at least 40 percent of its electricity from non-fossil sources by 2030. A decline in the cost of renewable technologies, combined with an oversupply of electricity in existing Indian distribution markets have played a role in projects being shelved. Steven Davis, an associate professor at UC Irvine, said "I'm skeptical that [India] will be able to completely halt coal power plant construction for the next decade. That's mostly not because of needing electricity, but because of some sort of industrial inertia in the system."

    For more information see:

    Scientific American


    Report: Majority of Top Global Investors Account for Financial Risk of Climate Change

    On April 26, the Asset Owner Disclosure Project (AODP) released its fifth global index ranking 500 of the world's top asset owners. The latest edition is notable for its assessment of the 50 largest asset managers according to their consideration of financial risks stemming from climate change. The managers were evaluated on "governance and strategy, portfolio carbon risk management, and metrics and targets." Overall, the report found that 60 percent of asset owners were taking some form of climate action, with the top performers all located in Europe and Oceania. Nearly one in five firms have staff that handle the integration of climate risk into investments, two in five include climate in their policy frameworks, while around 13 percent account for their portfolio's carbon emissions. AODP chairman John Hewson said "enormous resistance" still existed among Australia's asset managers in particular, adding that these firms "rely on short-term remuneration, so they won't take a medium to long-term challenge on easily."

    For more information see:



    Private Sector Leaders Pledge Emission Reductions, but Verification Remains Elusive

    A new report reveals nearly half of all American Fortune 500 companies have adopted targets to reduce their carbon footprints. Nearly two dozen companies have committed to operating on 100 percent renewable energy, including Google, Walmart, and Bank of America. However, energy companies, including Exxon, Chevron, and Phillips 66, are both the largest emitters in the group and have also done the least to reduce emissions or improve their energy efficiency. Berkshire Hathaway, Costco, Comcast, and Tyson Foods are other notable companies without public climate targets. The voluntary nature of the emission targets and a lack of independent verification present a challenge to gauging actual progress. According to finance expert Andreas Hoepner at the University of Reading, "What most companies are disclosing is nowhere near their real emissions. Setting targets is a step forward. I'd rather know something than nothing at all. But for some companies, reporting could be just a form of marketing."

    For more information see:

    New York Times


    Extreme Temperatures Found to Be a Contributing Factor to Kidney Disease in Salvadorian Workers

    Laborers in El Salvador are suffering from an unusual surge in chronic kidney disease, partly attributed to hotter temperatures. Workers engaging in strenuous activities such as farming, fishing, and construction have been seeking treatment in the country's hospitals over the last two decades, but many are unable to obtain care or are diagnosed too late. A study of agricultural workers in comparable conditions revealed that workers at higher, cooler elevations showed almost no cases of the disease. Lab testing revealed a combination of dehydration, heat stress, and the consumption of sugary drinks (due to a lack of clean, reliable water) could lead to kidney damage. Researchers have classified the kidney disease as "climate sensitive," meaning climate change is a contributing factor. A 2016 assessment confirmed that the outbreak overlapped with regions that had experienced extremely hot weather events. According to Richard Johnson, a kidney specialist at the University of Colorado, the events in El Salvador "may well be one of the first epidemics because of global warming."

    For more information see:

    Ars Technica


    Revised Sea Level Rise Estimate Is Nearly Twice as High as Prior Figures

    According to a new report from the Arctic Council's Arctic Monitoring Assessment Program, the melting of the Arctic's glaciers will contribute at least 19-25 centimeters (up to nearly a foot) of sea level rise by 2100. Projections integrating the Arctic's impact into the broader scope of global sea level rise show an increase of 52-74 centimeters (up to nearly 2.5 feet) by the end of the century. The report's authors observe that, "These estimates are almost double the minimum estimates made by the IPCC in 2013." The report also projects the Arctic Ocean could experience ice-free summers by as soon as 2030. However, the authors state that there is still a window to prevent the worst case scenario where the Arctic's temperatures increase to 6 degrees Celsius above average. The report distilled the best-available peer-reviewed science for use as a policy development tool. The Arctic Council is an intergovernmental body consisting of eight member countries that possesses the ability to commission work to inform Arctic policies.

    For more information see:

    Inside Climate News, Reuters


    Study: Western United States Could See Snowpack Decline by Over 30 Percent

    A new study appearing in Nature Communications estimates the western United States could lose between 30 and 60 percent of the snowpack that the region relies on for irrigation and drinking water over the next 30 years. The study's authors cite a combination of natural and anthropogenic causes contributing to the loss of snow. The findings drew upon data collected from 354 snow measurement stations across 11 states between 1982 and 2016, with models projecting the future rate of decline. The snowpack, which accumulates over winter and gradually melts during the summer and spring, contains more water than all of the region's reservoirs combined. Douglas Kenney, director of the Western Water Policy Project at the University of Colorado, said, "We are already a couple decades into this pattern of declining snowpacks. This is neither an abstract or new threat. There is going to be some pain and suffering. The question is how much of that suffering can we avoid by being proactive and innovative before the real damages set in?"

    For more information see:

    Inside Climate News



    New Congressional Task Force to Call Attention to Impact of Climate on Communities of Color and Low-Income Families

    Senators Introduce Bill to Transition Toward 100 Percent Renewable Energy by 2050

    Congressmen Reintroduce Bill to Establish Federal Bond-Funded Climate Adaptation

    Over 1,000 U.S. Companies Urge Trump to Preserve EPA's Energy Star Program

    NOAA Research Illustrates American Communities Most Vulnerable to Sea Level Rise

    Study: Canadian Oil Sands May Be Emitting 4.5 Times More Pollution Than Previously Thought


    Events and Publications

    New Global Warming / Climate Change FAQ Resource

    The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) has published a new section on its website featuring answers to some of the most frequently asked questions on global warming and climate change. This updated resource provides an overview of the nomenclature, science, causes, and consequences surrounding these intertwined issues. To learn more, visit this link.


    Writer and Editor: Brian La Shier