Climate Change Blog 54

By Carl Howard posted 12-15-2023 01:47 PM


Climate Change Blog 54

Facts on the Ground:

For the 54th time, as predicted due to steadily rising global temperature, warming seas and an atmosphere loaded with water vapor, record-breaking heat, drought, wildfires, flooding and lethal and destructive storms have ravaged all parts of the globe. Here is but a brief summary.

Record heat: In late November, record heat in Asia included: 34C (93.2F) in QATAR and BANGLADESH (unprecedented for this time of the year); SAUDI ARAABIA the capital Riyadh 33.2C; 32C in JORDAN. In Central Asia abnormal warmth: 25C in KAZAKHSTAN; 28C in the PHILIPPINES at night; in IRAN: 31.0 Rasht, 30.9 Anzali, 30.3 Parsabad hottest November day on record beaten by 2.3C at the end of the month! In TURKMENISTAN: 29.0 Serdar, 28.9 Bakharly. These are absurd record highs with temperatures 10-12C above the highest ever recorded this time of the year (the most the world has ever seen outside Antartica). HISTORIC heat in the Caspian, 27.6C at Lankaran, AZERBAIJAN, the highest temperature ever recorded in November there. Every single day of November has been abnormally warm in most of the Caucasus and Central Asia with temps above 30C in the Caspian coast of IRAN: 30.2C Rasht and 30.4C Anzali. More record temps in Western Australia: 27.2C at Paynes Find beat the highest temp ever recorded there in November. Every day of the last week in Nov set multiple heat records in the area. In Brazil heat records were set on multiple days, including CAERA: 40.7C at Jaguaribe is 0.1C from its all-time highest temperature (Itapipoca, 2016), 40.1C Crateus tied its all-time high. Record heat also in INDIA, 37.8C at Dahanu, State of Maharashtra, which ties its November highest temperature on record. I could make a similar list for December, January, etc.

Every month of 2023 and 2022 was hotter than average, often by extreme margins and at record levels.

Extreme flooding: In late November, heavy rainfall caused severe flooding in Millswood, Australia and other parts of the greater Adelaide Region. The deluge caused 36 power outages with 8,000 homes affected.

In Sochi, Russia, massive waves from Storm Bettina made landfall in late November. Bettina strengthened over the Black Sea with wind gust of about 75 miles per hour and waves rising 30 feet high and a significant amount of snow, which led to severe flooding in Southern Russia. Three deaths were reported, 350 people were evacuated and almost 2 million people were without power.  Bettina’s landfall came just a week after another storm wreaked havoc along Turkey’s black Sea coast killing nine people, sinking a cargo ship and splitting another.

Extreme flooding occurred in Peru due to extreme rainfall, about 27mm of rain fell in 2 hours in the city of Puno. Pahang, Malaysia had severe street flooding from heavy rain in late November.

Extreme hailstorm battered the city of Morbi, in the State of Gujarat, India with up to 50 mm of rainfall recorded in a 10-hour-period, flooding and forcing the shutdown of the ceramic industries and factories in this city, India’s ceramics capital. The severe hailstorm caused at least 14 deaths, 10 people were injured, houses, crops and livestock were damaged. The extreme rainfalls were due to a cyclonic circulation lying over the northeast Arabian Sea and the adjoining Gujarat Regions, the India Meteorological Department said.

In late November, heavy rains and floods killed scores of people and displaced hundreds of thousands of others across eastern Africa, highlighting the rising climatic hazards in the region. In Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, at least 179 people were killed. The heavy rains, which have devastated other nations including Burundi, Sudan, South Sudan and Uganda, affected more than three million people in a region that was already reeling from its worst drought in four decades. Since 2020, the drought conditions, aggravated by climate change, have destroyed crops and livestock and left millions of people hungry and malnourished, and hundreds of children dead. The floods have damaged homes, bridges and schools, with an impending increase in disease outbreaks, including cholera and malaria, aid agencies said.

In Somalia, where the floods have affected 1.7 million people, the government declared a state of emergency in October. The UN said the country was facing “once-in-a-century flooding.” The southern part of the country was impacted as heavy rains caused two main rivers to break their banks, submerging homes and farms. At least 96 people, including children, died due to the floods a government spokesman said. “We were asleep when the water poured into our home,” Faiza Ahmed Farah, a resident of Hudur in southwestern Somalia, said. “The floods took everything. We were only able to rescue the children” she added.

In Kenya, more than 60 people died due to torrential rains, the U.N. said. Thousands of people have been displaced and entire neighborhoods were submerged in the coastal county of Mombasa in November. The rains have ravaged the Dadaab refugee complex with about 300,000 refugees. Cases of diarrhea have doubled in a two-week period in Hagadera, one of the camps in the complex. Thousands of people had to evacuate the camp and move into schools, according to Doctors Without Borders. A similar disaster occurred in neighboring countries including Ethiopia, where torrential rains submerged large portions of land in several regions. Thousands of homes were flooded across Sudan in November, even as millions fled a seven-month civil war.

Wildfires in Canada this year burned over 16 million hectares of land, nearly 10 times more than 2022 and roughly the size of New York state, the most in its recorded history. Canada has had 6,400 wildfires since the beginning of 2023. The 2023 Canadian wildfire season is unprecedented: three times more carbon was produced than previous record wildfire year.

New research published in October, suggests the truly catastrophic: the West Antarctica ice shelf may be melting beyond the point of no return. "It looks like we've lost control of melting of West Antarctic Ice Sheet" said Dr Kaitlin Naughten of the British Antarctic Survey, the report's lead author. If this is so, hundreds of millions of people worldwide are at risk of coastal flooding. The research concluded that floating tongues of ice extend from the main ice sheet into the ocean and play a key role in holding back the glaciers behind it. But as ice shelves melt, the ice behind is released into the oceans. The study's findings suggest that future sea-level rise may be greater than previously assumed. "Our findings seem to increase the likelihood that [current] estimates [of sea-level rise] will be exceeded," Dr Naughten told the BBC. The accelerating melt of ice sheets is now 'unmistakable.'

In 2021, the UN's climate body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, released its latest estimates of future sea-level rise. It projected global average SLR rise of between 0.28m and 1.01m by 2100, due largely to the melting of glaciers and ice sheets.

The West Antarctic Ice Sheet is considered highly vulnerable to rising temperatures, especially Thwaites Glacier. However, the IPCC also noted that higher rises were possible due to "ice-sheet-related processes that are characterized by deep uncertainty" that were not directly included in its estimates. One of these key uncertainties is how the ice sheet interacts with the oceans.

This latest study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, is the first to directly simulate how ocean warming will affect Antarctic ice shelves in response to different levels of GHG emissions. Amundsen Sea, off the coast of West Antarctica, will warm roughly three times faster than the historical rate through the rest of this century, the study finds. This will lead to much more rapid melting of ice shelves.

This will happen even if humanity takes strong steps to slow warming, the study suggests. But this is not a reason to avoid moving away from fossil fuels, Dr Naughten stresses. "What we do now will help to slow the rate of sea-level rise in the long term,"

The Antarctic ice sheet contains enough ice to raise global sea-levels by about 58m (190ft) if it melted entirely. A sizeable portion - enough to raise sea-levels by around 5m (16ft) - is held in West Antarctica, which is considered less stable and has been losing mass in recent decades. The West Antarctic continent sits below sea-level. This means that glaciers may retreat into deeper and deeper waters, accelerating the loss of ice. This is the concern with Thwaites Glacier that flows into the Amundsen Sea. Thwaites, sometimes referred to as the "doomsday glacier" because it would raise global sea-levels by around 65cm (25in) if it collapsed entirely, is highly vulnerable to warming.

It is well-established that SLR will continue for decades, perhaps centuries as ice sheets take a long time to fully adjust to changes to the rapid warming of recent years, with more warming to come. This study adds weight to the idea that SLR may be faster than previously assumed as a result of increased ice shelf melt, to which societies worldwide will be hard-pressed to adapt.

Steps taken to slow the loss of ice, through cutting GHG emissions, could be crucial in giving societies time to prepare for and adapt to rising seas. "It should serve as a wakeup call," Prof Naveira Garabato said. "We can still save the rest of the Antarctic Ice Sheet, containing about 10 times as many metres of sea-level rise, if we learn from our past inaction and start reducing greenhouse gas emissions now."

A historic drought in the Amazon is putting the lives of hundreds of thousands, especially indigenous people, at serious risk, Environmental Group, Greenpeace has said in a report issued in early October. Rivers in the Amazon are an essential source of food, particularly fishing, and an important means of transportation. But many rivers and lakes are drying up completely unveiling a devastated landscape of thousands of dead fish and over 100 dead pink dolphins due to lack of water or oxygen and drinking water is contaminated or scarce. The extreme droughts have been exacerbated by the climate crisis and the El-Nino climate pattern (which refers to a warming of the ocean surface, or above-average sea surface temperatures, in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean) resulting in hotter than usual weather in the region and impacting millions of people. Fires and deforestation are the cause of 49% of Brazil’s GHG emissions. The large number of fires, especially drought-stricken areas contribute significantly to the climate crisis and affect the health of local populations, exposing them to high temperatures, drought and air pollution.

Hurricane Otis hit Mexico in late October killing 27 people and three were missing after the strongest ever hurricane to hit the pacific coast of Mexico turned a popular tourist destination into a scene of mass desolation. Much of the State of Guerrero was cut off from the world after the hurricane came onshore. The hurricane struck unexpectedly after it grew with breathtaking speed from a tropical storm into a Category 5 hurricane with sustained winds of 165mph when it made landfall. Forecasters and the Mexican authorities were shocked by the magnitude of the storm as they failed to predict that it would intensify so unexpectedly, creating what a forecaster with the National Hurricane Center, called a “nightmare scenario”. “It is unprecedented in the country in recent times,” President López Obrador said.

Computer models that meteorologists use to predict storm’s strengths and paths didn’t expect Otis to become a hurricane at all, let alone a Category 5. Otis’s landfall as a Category 5 storm makes it one of the most ferocious hurricanes to ever hit the region, even as Mexico’s geography makes its coastlines particularly vulnerable to tropical storms in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Otis “explosively intensified” by 110 mph in 24 hours, forecasters said, far surpassing the standard definition of rapid intensification, which is when a storm grows by 35mph in 24 hours. This is one of the fastest intensifications in modern records. “There are no hurricanes on record even close to this intensity for this part of Mexico,” they added.

The City of Acapulco, with more than 852,000 people on the Pacific Coast and many hotels packed with tourists, was in the direct path of Otis when it struck. Hotel rooms were ravaged, doors ripped from hinges and furniture scattered throughout city streets. Terrified tourists hid in their resorts as the hurricane collapsed ceilings and shattered windows. About 80% of hotels in Acapulco were damaged by the storm.

Storm Babet Causes Severe Flooding in Scotland dumping more than 23 inches of rain on the region. In mid-October, Britain’s weather agency issued a rare red warning in Scotland because of “exceptional” levels of rain, its second such warning in less than three days, as Storm Babet wreaked havoc in the region. At least three people died including a 57-year-old woman who was swept into a river in Angus, Scotland, and a man in Shropshire, England, who was caught in floodwaters from a brook that breached a road.

“The rainfall we’ve been seeing is exceptional,” Stephen Dixon, a spokesman for the weather agency, the Met Office, said. “It’s not normal autumn weather.” The storm is also bringing winds of up to 70 mph, he added. More than 670 millimeters of rain (about 26.4”) fell, abnormal for this time of year. In 2022, Scotland received about 196 millimeters (7.7”) of rain in the entire month of October. “There remains a danger to life,” and central and northeastern Scotland were experiencing “widespread impacts to transport and infrastructure and community-scale property flooding” authorities said.

In Florida, in mid-October, two tornadoes made landfall around Tampa Bay, damaging homes. The Citrus County School District closed its schools for the day, and about 16,000 customers were without power, according to In Clearwater, a woman was asleep in a bedroom when a wall and the roof fell on her, the Clearwater Police Department said (she escaped serious injury).  

In Villa Carlos Paz, Argentina, 100s were forced to evacuate the city when immense walls of fire suddenly threatened it. Unusually high temperatures of 35C and wind gusts up to 70 kilometres per hour led to the fire that was fought by over 900 firemen. A man was arrested for having lost control of the fire he started to make coffee.

In August and September, scotching heat set records in Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia with temperatures above 40C/104F. Temperatures in France soared as high as 35.8C. It was the hottest temperature ever recorded in October in Franc.  Perth in Australia recorded its hottest October day on record, 30.2C/86.4F. Cape Town recorded its hottest August day on record, 32.9C/91.2F. The UK experienced a record 7 consecutive days of over 30C in September.

Hurricane Lidia was one of the fastest intensifying hurricanes ever (before Otis) increasing from a Category 1 to a Category 4 storm in just 9.5 hours before making landfall with 140 mph winds, just south of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico in early October.

In early October the third strongest gust of wind ever recorded in history occurred on Orchid Island, Taiwan, measuring 340 km/h (211.266 mph) during Typhoon Koinu. The anemometer was destroyed during the storm. This is energy like never before.

NYC had record flooding on Sept 29. Buses with passengers on them flooded. Children, some traveling alone, fought their way to school through rushing waters. Some classrooms and many basement apartments flooded, a familiar hazard in NYC, which caused deaths in previous storms. Motorists had to be rescued by firefighters from the city’s major highways which were transformed into rivers. Half of the city’s subways were not operational or were suspended. Terminal A at La Guardia Airport flooded and was closed. Major flooding occurred in Brooklyn and trains were shut down with flooded streets being the only exit from the station.

Gov. Kathy Hochul declared a state of emergency, urging New Yorkers to stay home and singling out those who live in basements to brace for the worst. State and city leaders implored residents not to underestimate a storm that flipped from falling rain to fire-hose torrents in minutes. Gov. Hochul called it a “life-threatening rainfall event”.

In Queens, the storm produced the wettest day at Kennedy International Airport since modern record-keeping began. It was the second-wettest September in NYC history, according to National Weather Service statistics. More than 14 inches fell in September, the most since September 1882, over 140 years ago, when the city recorded 16.85 inches. The storm flooded parts of the F.D.R. Drive, shut down the Belt Parkway and led to the cancelation/delay of many flights at JFK and La Guardia. In the Central Park Zoo, the storm enabled the brief escape of a sea lion after the water rose and breached her pool.

In mid-September, Libya experienced the deadliest flood of the 21st Century, with 7,000 people confirmed dead. In the city of Derna, home to 90,000 people, up to 20,000 were feared dead. 25% of the city is estimated to have been destroyed after two dams collapsed due to extreme rainfall.

In early September, violent storms battered parts of Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey. The deluge killed at least 14 people, ravaged roads and prompted evacuations. In Turkey, seven people were killed by flooding in the northwest, its interior minister said. Four people died in floodwaters on the Black Sea coast, Bulgarian officials said.

In Greece, record rainfall swamped the country’s central region killing 3. Greece’s fire service said it had received more than 2,000 calls for help in 24 hours. Among the hardest hit areas was the city of Volos, with rivers of water in the streets, uprooted trees and cars washed up on beaches. The damage to roads and bridges was severe, cutting Volos in half, Mayor Achilleas Beos, said. The city was entirely without power and most areas lacked running water.

In Athens, the authorities closed several roads and the central metro station. As heavy rain battered the Greek capital, Greece’s Civil Protection Ministry sent out a cellphone alert asking people to avoid commuting. Some areas had received close to 18 inches of rain within a 48-hour period, the weather authority said. The average rainfall for a full year in Athens is around 16 inches. “We’re accustomed to seeing more extreme weather due to climate change,” said Konstantinos Lagouvardos, research director at the National Observatory of Athens. “But this is something else — an extreme, extreme weather event,” he said. “We’ve never seen anything like it.”

In early September in Turkey, hundreds of emergency and rescue workers were still grappling with the aftermath of the floodwaters. Flooding damaged more than 1,700 residences and stores in Istanbul, and more than 30 people were injured.

In Bulgaria, the authorities declared a state of emergency in Tsarevo, the worst-affected area on the Black Sea, and evacuated hundreds of people from flooded campsites. A long line of cars jammed the roads as tourists and residents tried to leave. Overflowing rivers destroyed roads and bridges in the region, with buildings destroyed and cars swept out to sea. Some communities on the coast lacked electricity. The amount of rainfall that the southern coast of Bulgaria received in a 24-hour period from the storm front, called Daniel, was at least three times the amount of rain it would normally receive in a month, Bulgarian officials said. The torrential rains in some places came after a summer of parched conditions, and meteorologists have called the extreme rainfall highly unusual. The authorities have pointed to climate change as the reason for an overwhelming variety of extreme weather.

Extreme weather fueled by climate change is linked to the deaths of more than two million people each year, according to the UN. Each year in the US, heat waves driven by rising global temperatures cause more than 700 deaths, more than 67,500 emergency calls and more than 9,200 hospitalizations.

In late August, Hurricane Idalia swept back out to sea but its tail end continued to dump heavy rain and produce flash flooding across the North Carolina coast. The storm left behind downed trees, power outages and hazardous roads on a roughly 700-mile path from the Gulf Coast to the Outer Banks. Florida’s sparsely populated Big Bend region, where Idalia came ashore as a Category 3 storm was worst hit. The Florida Highway Patrol reported two weather-related car crashes that resulted in fatalities and Georgia officials said one person was killed when a tree fell on a car. Biden signed a major disaster declaration to provide aid to places in Florida hit hard by the storm.  Over 250,000 customers in Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas were without power.

At least five people died in Michigan after severe storms in late August brought heavy rain, strong wind gusts and three tornadoes. Three people, a 21-year-old woman, and two girls, aged 3 and 1, were killed in a car accident in Kent County, a spokesman for the Kent County Sheriff’s Office said. Two more people were killed in Ingham County. Two tornadoes were confirmed in Wayne County, and another was confirmed northwest of Grand Rapids. Nearly 450,000 customers in Michigan were without power.

In late August, wildfires devastated northern Greece for 5 consecutive days forcing the evacuation of settlements on the outskirts of Athens. The authorities said they were battling scores of blazes around the country after weeks of scorching heat turned many areas into tinderboxes. “It is the worst summer for fires since records began,” Vassilis Kikilias, the civil protection minister said. Rescue forces were giving “110 percent” in their efforts to douse multiple blazes around the country, with 355 new fires occurring within a five-day period, 209 of them within 24 hours. Forces were responding as quickly as possible, but gale force winds were hampering their efforts, he added, describing an “unprecedented situation” after a series of heat waves.

The unidentified bodies of 18 people, including two children, were discovered in a forest in the Evros region near the border with Turkey. Authorities said they believed the dead were migrants who had perished when the fire outran them. In the northern port city of Alexandroupolis, ash rained on empty waterfront tavernas and the thick pall of smoke made breathing hard. Farther inland, locals in villages and farmsteads battled flames with sticks and buckets of water as firefighters deployed water-scooping helicopters and aircraft. In north Athens, the authorities ordered the evacuation of the settlement of Agia Pareskevi, including 50 retirement home residents and a monastery. The Amygdaleza migrant camp was also evacuated.

Homes burned in Agia Paraskevi as well as in Menidi, on the outskirts of Athens, the authorities said. Despite upgrades to firefighting forces in recent years, “significant things” need to be done if Greece is to be able to respond to the “extreme situation” presented by climate change, Mr. Kikilias said. It was the second time this summer that the country’s firefighting forces were faced with multiple fronts. In July, thousands of tourists were evacuated from Rhodes and Corfu.

In early August, at least 100 people were killed, with 67 injured and 4 people missing due to wildfires that ripped through the Hawaiian island of Maui, county officials said, making it one of the country’s deadliest fires in 100 years. At least three wildfires began raging on Maui, with some so intense it caused at least a dozen people to escape by jumping into the Pacific Ocean. The Hawaii wind-driven fires consumed over 17,000 acres and prompted evacuations, burning much of the historic town of Lahaina. “With lives lost and properties decimated, we are grieving with each other during this inconsolable time,” said Maui’s mayor, Richard Bissen. The increase in wildfires was attributed to dry, gusty conditions created by a strong high-pressure area north of Hawaii and Hurricane Dora to the south. The state government of Hawaii issued a state of emergency for the entirety of the state and Biden issued a federal major disaster declaration.

The fires, destroyed over 2,200 buildings in Lahaina in Maui County, including residential buildings and some of Hawaii’s most important cultural heritage, the Pacific Disaster Center (PDC) and FEMA said. The cost of the damage caused by the fire was $5.5 billion, the U.S. Department of Commerce said. “This is really devastating, and it will have long-term impacts, not to mention the cultural impacts,” said Burgess Harrison, 66, a homeowner on the island.

Tourists were asked to leave Maui, and buses ferried visitors in West Maui to the island’s Kahului Airport, with about 1,500 passengers being evacuated and 11,000 travelers already evacuated, officials said. All mandatory evacuations from the Big Island were completed in early August. Phone service was down in some parts of the island’s west coast, including Lahaina. The damage on the islands was widespread, with recovery likely to take years, Lt. Gov. Sylvia Luke said.

In Maui County, there were more than 15,800 power outages, according to The 911 emergency call service in West Maui was down, and people were told to call the local police department directly instead, Maui County officials said. Almost all public schools in Maui were closed.

Several parts of Maui were under evacuation orders. Two evacuation shelters closed because of the encroaching fire, and people inside were sent to new locations, Maui County officials said. Margo Brousseau, 52, a visitor, said after her family’s flight home were canceled, the airline staff told them, “There is nowhere we can put you because all of these hotels don’t have power and all these people are being evacuated from their own resorts, so we don’t have anywhere to offer you.” They ended up at an evacuation site at Maui High School, where a worker told her there were more than 1,200 people inside, with cots and blankets on the ground and many people still awake at about 3 a.m. A red flag warning indicating that critical fire conditions were occurring or would be shortly, was in effect for some parts of the Hawaiian islands, the Weather Service said.

As demonstrated by the above-noted extreme heat events, 2023 is “virtually certain” to be the hottest year in recorded history as per the World Meteorological Organization at COP28 (and its State of the Global Climate report). COP28 is the United Nations climate summit in Dubai where delegates from 198 countries (Convention of the Parties), including many heads of state and government, gathered. 2023 has been about 1.4C (2.5F) above the global average preindustrial temperature from 1850 to 1990. The past nine years have been the warmest nine in 174 years of recorded scientific observations with the previous single-year records set in 2020 and 2016. This comes in addition to recordGHG concentrations, sea levels and concentrations of methane. “It’s a deafening cacophony of broken records,” Petteri Taalas, the secretary general of the WMO said.

Mr. Taalas said he hoped the report would signal to negotiators in Dubai the urgent need to hash out an ambitious deal to mitigate climate change. “We are not at all going in the right direction,” he said. “We are going in the wrong direction.” Biden skipped the climate talks for the first time since taking office, with VP Harris standing in for him. Pope Francis, on doctor’s orders, also skipped it.

The Northern Hemisphere summer was disastrously hot for much of the world’s population.  July was Earth’s hottest month on record. Scientists found that extreme temperatures in North America and in Europe would have been “virtually impossible” without the influence of climate change from the burning of fossil fuels. More than 61,000 people are estimated to have died in Europe alone because of heat waves in 2022. In Africa, climate change has led to more hunger, malaria, dengue fever and flooding.

More intense, concentrated bursts of rainfall are one effect of climate change. In September, a powerful storm dumped torrential rain over the Mediterranean, rupturing two dams in Libya (see above). Earlier in the year, the exceptionally long-lived Tropical Cyclone Freddy hit southern Africa, forming in early February and making final landfall in Mozambique and Malawi in mid-March. The storm killed more than 600 and displaced more than 600,000 in Malawi.

High temperatures prevent people from working as many hours as they would normally. One study estimated that, in 2021, the US agriculture, construction, manufacturing and service sectors lost more than 2.5 billion labor hours to heat exposure. A separate assessment found that, in 2020, productivity losses from extreme heat cost the American economy about $100 billion. In addition, this year’s record-breaking heat contributed to wildfires around the world, particularly in Canada. Smoke from the long-lasting fires affected millions more in cities far away.

Nature has also paid a price, particularly in the ocean, which has absorbed 90% of global warming so far. Sea surface temperatures reached new heights this year, especially in the Atlantic. In July, a buoy off the coast of Florida recorded a temperature of 101F. Coral reefs in the region suffered mass bleaching. “Record global heating should send shivers down the spines of world leaders,” the UN secretary general, António Guterres, said. “Today’s report shows we’re in deep trouble. Leaders must get us out of it, starting at COP28.”  The planet is careening toward climate disaster, and governments are acting too slowly to avert the crisis.

At last year’s summit hosted by Egypt, in Sharm el Sheikh, nearly 200 nations agreed to establish a fund to help poor, vulnerable countries cope with climate disasters made worse by the GHGs pumped into the atmosphere by industrialized nations. But they made little progress in terms of cutting those emissions. A proposal to phase out fossil fuels was stymied by countries that produce and use gas, oil and coal. And Egypt made deals on the sidelines of the summit to sell natural gas to Europe. This year it was Saudi Arabia that stymied a deal to phase out fossil fuels. In addition, Sultan Al Jaber, of the host nation, United Arab Emirates, and head of its state-owned oil company, was president of the climate summit. He said there was no science’ behind the need to phase out fossil fuels. Leaked correspondence revealed that he used his position as facilitator of the summit to pursue oil and gas deals on the sidelines.

The news from COP28 is that 198 nations agreed to “transitioning away from fossil fuels.” It was the first time that the F-word was used in a COP agreement but it came with no requirements or enforcement mechanism. Every country will decide for itself how to affect such a transition, and when.  Comfort Ero, president of the International Crisis Group, said “their lack of concrete commitments to increase climate finance for the green transition to cleaner energy sources has left these pleas feeling insincere.” The nations also agreed on the need for tripling renewable energy like wind and solar by 2030, which will be enormously expensive and it is not clear how much money will be offered for emerging economies and low-income countries, at what terms and how soon. Arunabha Ghosh, chief executive of the Council on Energy, Environment and Water, a nonprofit research organization based in New Delhi, said that without effective financial tools, emerging economies that aim to expand their renewable fleet would be undermined. “It hasn’t sufficiently raised climate ambition, held historical polluters accountable, or established effective mechanisms to finance climate resilience and a just low-carbon transition for the Global South,” he said of the summit.

“Whether this is a turning point that truly marks the beginning of the end of the fossil fuel era depends on the actions that come next,” former VP Al Gore said. A $700 million fund was established for countries that have suffered irreparable economic losses and damages. The US committed $17 million, which one climate campaigner from India, Harjeet Singh, called “paltry” compared with other countries. The UAE and Germany committed $100 million each.

One perennial sticking point in global climate talks is that developing nations say they can’t afford to shift rapidly away from fossil fuels and adapt to fiercer heat waves and storms without outside help. Under the Paris deal, wealthy emitters like the US and Europe vowed to provide $100 billion per year from public and private sources by 2020 for this purpose. But they have yet to fulfill that promise. In 2020, industrialized countries provided $83.3 billion in climate finance. And only a small fraction of that money goes toward adaptation, such as building sea walls or helping farmers cope with drought, which is often the most pressing need.

The stocktake report notes that developing countries will ultimately need trillions of dollars to prepare for climate change and calls for wider systemic reforms, such as reforming lending practices at multilateral banks or aiding countries that are saddled with large debt burdens. “There’s been so much focus on holding developed countries accountable for their $100 billion promise, which is absolutely important,” said Charlene Watson, a senior research associate at the Overseas Development Institute. “But the reality is we’ll need so much more.” Preparing for future threats, like dwindling freshwater supplies or irreversible ecosystem damage, will require “transformational” changes in climate adaptation.

One obstacle, the report noted, is that many adaptation efforts “are failing to keep pace with increasing climate impacts and risks.” “It’s a lot harder to track progress on adaptation than it is to track progress on finance or cutting emissions,” said Richard Klein of the Stockholm Environment Institute, who added that devising measurable global goals for adaptation would be a key challenge for future climate talks.

“This is like sitting down with your doctor and agreeing that your liver could be better, you really need to be in better shape,” Rachel Kyte, a veteran climate diplomat and former dean of the Fletcher School at Tufts University, said. “Now are you going to get off the couch and do something about it, or just sit there and ignore it?”

Saudi Arabia, the de facto leader of OPEC, endorsed the final deal saying it left countries free to choose their own direction in addressing climate change. Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, the Saudi oil minister, said the deal would not have an impact on the country’s ability to sell crude oil. The agreement even seems to suggest a role for natural gas, a fossil fuel that has attracted heavy investment in recent years from large oil companies, in “facilitating the energy transition.” It also calls for “accelerating” carbon capture and storage, a technology that has been criticized by environmental groups for having the potential to extend the use of fossil fuels.

“Demand for affordable, reliable energy will continue to rise as global population increases, and the world will need more sources of energy, not fewer,” said the American Petroleum Institute, a trade group based in Washington that represents a wide range of companies.

One notable aspect of COP28 is the global “stocktake.” This is the first formal assessment, written by representatives from the US and South Africa and based on contributions from hundreds of governments, scientists and civil society groups from around the world, issued in mid-September, of whether nations are on track to meet a goal they set in Paris in 2015 to limit the rise in average global temperatures to 1.5C (2.7F) above preindustrial levels. (They’re/we’re not.) That’s the threshold beyond which scientists say it will be increasingly hard for humans to cope with the severe storms, drought, heat and sea level rise that will intensify as the planet continues to heat up. The planet has already warmed at least 1.2C and global emissions that are driving the changes are going up, not down. Signatories of the Paris accord will once again have to increase their pledges to reduce GHG emissions. Renewed pledges are due in 2025.

The report was intended to serve as the foundation for the COP28 negotiations. “I urge governments to carefully study the findings of the report and ultimately understand what it means for them and the ambitious action they must take next,” said Simon Stiell, the UN climate head. “The global stocktake is a critical moment for greater ambition and accelerating action.”

The report does not single out any individual county for success or failure. The clear consensus is that all countries must cut emissions faster, but then begins the finger-pointing: developing countries like India say that wealthy emitters like the US and Europe should curtail their fossil fuel use more rapidly, while US officials point at China as it has become the world’s largest emitter by far.

The COP28 facilitator, Sultan al-Jaber, is promoting a long-term goal of phasing out “unabated” fossil fuels. That would allow for the continued use of oil, coal or gas if companies can capture and bury the emissions those fuels produce — a technology that has struggled to gain traction because of high costs. “It was only a matter of time before his preposterous disguise no longer concealed the reality of the most brazen conflict of interest in the history of climate negotiations,” said Mr. Gore.

“The United Nations’ polite prose glosses over what is a truly damning report card for global climate efforts,” said Ani Dasgupta, president of the World Resources Institute. “Carbon emissions? Still climbing. Rich countries’ finance commitments? Delinquent. Adaptation support? Lagging woefully behind.”

The Rhodium Group, a research firm, published a report in late November estimating that the planet is on track to warm roughly 2.8C (5F) above preindustrial levels by 2100. Many world leaders and scientists consider warming in excess of 2C to be a threat to continued human civilization. The report predicts that emissions from electricity and transportation are likely to fall over time, but emissions from heavy industry including cement, steel and chemical factories will be harder to reduce and are on pace to become by far the world’s largest source of planet-warming pollution.

Globally, GHG emissions are expected to soar to record highs this year. Exxon Mobil is investing $64.5 billion buying another fossil fuel driller. In June, Shell became the latest of the big oil companies to back-pedal on its plan to cut oil output, announcing that it will no longer reduce annual oil and gas production through the end of the decade. The company also raised its dividend, diverting money that could be used to develop clean energy. BP’s share prices surged earlier this year when the company scaled back its plan to reduce oil and gas output. Overall, oil and gas companies are projected to spend more than $500 billion this year on identifying, extracting and producing new oil and gas supplies, and even more on dividends to return record profits to shareholders, according to the International Energy Agency. The UN secretary-general said “the fossil fuel age has failed” and called for phasing out oil and gas. As noted, no such phasing out was agreed to.

In the electricity sector, which accounts for 25% of GHGs today, solar and wind power are growing so fast that global demand for fossil-fueled electricity may peak this decade. That process has begun in the US and Europe, where coal-fired power is plummeting, and China could soon follow.

CO2 emissions from transportation are also projected to fall by midcentury because of the rapid spread of electric vehicles, which now make up one in five new car sales globally. In places like Africa and Asia, smaller electric motorcycles, mopeds and rickshaws are already displacing nearly one million barrels of oil per day.

But neither electricity nor transportation will reach zero emissions — which is what scientists say is needed to have a chance of keeping warming at 1.5C. That’s because most countries still rely on coal or natural gas to back up wind and solar power, and we lack alternatives to decarbonize long-distance trucks, airplanes and ships. Until we solve those challenges, and research is on-going with new types of batteries, advanced nuclear reactors and clean hydrogen fuels, we will continue to rely on fossil fuels like oil and gas. “Eventually we reach the limits of what we can do with technologies widely available today,” said Kate Larsen, a partner at the Rhodium Group. That could cause emissions to resume rising later this century if electricity and travel demand continue to grow.

Emissions from countless buildings globally that burn coal, oil or natural gas for heating and cooking are projected to fall modestly over the next few decades due to efficiency improvements and a shift to cleaner electric technologies like heat pumps, the report said. But absent a requirement and/or financial incentives to retrofit older homes and buildings, emissions are unlikely to fall to zero.

Industrial emissions are expected to soar in the decades ahead. Many factories burn coal or natural gas to produce huge amounts of heat needed to create steam, temper glass or turn iron into steel or limestone into cement. The chemical industry uses fossil fuels as a raw material for its products. Alternatives remain expensive and in their infancy. Thus, industry is projected to remain a major contributor to climate change (cement manufacturing alone could produce twice as much CO2 for the rest of the century as all the world’s cars combined).

The report points at emerging markets such as India, China, Southeast Asia and Africa as where the biggest growth in industrial emissions will occur. Emerging markets cannot afford the types of decarbonizing efforts that wealthy countries like the US and Europe are attempting in the cement and steel industries. “There’s a massive mismatch there,” said Anna Nilsson, a climate policy analyst at the NewClimate Institute. “There’s a huge need not just to develop cleaner technologies but also to make sure that they can be used everywhere.”

The report forecasts a rise in emissions from agriculture in places with significant population growth like Africa, India, Brazil and Southeast Asia, due to deforestation for farmland. As more people escape poverty, they tend to consume more meat, which has a high climate impact. Many nations are failing to honor recent pledges to reverse and halt deforestation by 2030.

The US is producing a record amount of crude oil and was the world’s leading exporter of natural gas in the first six months of 2023. China is building new coal-fired power plants as its emissions continue to rise.

The science is clear, researchers say: nations must sharply cut GHGs this decade to avoid the most catastrophic impacts from climate change. The warning signs are all around. Extreme weather is ravaging every continent. Biodiversity is collapsing and glaciers are melting. Billion-dollar disasters are occurring regularly. The US has suffered 23 billion-dollar disasters so far in 2023, a record for this point in the year that highlights the country’s struggle to adapt to the effects of climate change. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric data shows a steady upward march, from 3 such disasters in 1980 to a record 22 in 2020 and a new record in 2023 and counting.

The Biden administration is increasing resilience spending via the Federal Emergency Management Agency which “has provided historic levels of mitigation funding to help communities build resilience,” Jeremy Edwards, an agency spokesman, said.  FEMA designated almost 500 communities as “disaster resilience zones,” which are eligible for increased federal funding. The Biden administration has also tried to persuade state and local governments to impose stricter building codes, which can drastically reduce the damage from natural disasters.

But stricter codes increase the upfront cost of homes, a powerful disincentive as much of the nation suffers through a housing shortage. Despite the federal government’s efforts, only about one-third of American jurisdictions use the most recent building codes, according to the Institute for Building and Home Safety, a research group funded by the insurance industry.

“The world is watching,” a group of more than 650 scientists with the Union of Concerned Scientists wrote in a Nov. 14 letter to Biden. “This is a crucial moment for the United States to join with other world leaders and demonstrate genuine progress toward solving a crisis that is rapidly spiraling out of control.” The COP process is the only vehicle where diplomats, corporate chiefs, princes and presidents come together to focus on a planetary crisis.

There has also been scant progress on reforming the lending practices of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund — which critics say can trap poor countries in a cycle of debt and disaster. Rich countries appear close to their pledge of $100 billion per year to help developing countries adapt to climate change, albeit four years late, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said. “They’re bearing the consequences of climate change, which they did not create,” said Mariana Mazzucato, an economist at University College London who is working to reform climate finance.

The UN issued in late November its annual Emissions Gap Report, which tracks the gulf between national ambitions to fight global warming and what scientists say is needed to stave off catastrophe. That gulf has shrunk slightly over the past year but it remains large.

At least 149 countries have updated their pledges under the 2015 Paris climate agreement to curb their GHG emissions by 2030. If every single country were to follow through on its stated plans (unlikely) then global GHG emissions would be 2 - 9% lower at the end of the decade than they are today. But that would still put Earth on track to heat up roughly 2.5 to 2.9C over preindustrial levels by the century’s end. With every fraction of a degree of warming, the risks from deadly heat waves, wildfires, droughts, storms and species extinctions increase significantly, scientists said.

To stay below 2C, global emissions would need to fall roughly 29% between now and 2030. To stay at 1.5C global emissions would need to fall about 43%. “The world must change track, or we will be saying the same thing next year — and the year after, and the year after, like a broken record,” Inger Andersen, the executive director of the UN Environment Program, wrote in a foreword to the report. Unless countries drastically ramp up action this decade, the UN report said, it will become “impossible” to limit global warming to 1.5C and extremely difficult to stay below 2C. Countries may also have to rely on still-unproven technologies to remove billions of tons of CO2 from the air.

The world’s 20 largest economies (the Group of 20), still need to effectuate additional policies to achieve their climate goals. The Biden administration has pledged to cut US emissions 50% below 2005 levels by 2030, but the clean energy subsidies approved so far by Congress are insufficient. Collectively, the G20 is expected to fall short of its pledges by about 1.2 billion tons of CO2 in 2030 absent further action.

Additionally, more than two-thirds of global emissions now come from developing countries, which are rapidly increasing their use of fossil fuels to lift themselves out of poverty. Many of these countries are saddled with heavy debt loads, and the costs of financing renewable energy projects in places like South Asia or sub-Saharan Africa can be up to seven times as high as they are in the US or Europe. “International financial assistance will therefore have to be significantly scaled up from existing levels,” the authors noted, “and new public and private sources of capital better distributed toward low-income countries.”

Climate change is a broad term encompassing a wide range of planetary threats. It is also a driver of numerous threats including loss of biodiversity. On December 11, the International Union for Conservation of Nature at COP28 issued an update to its Red List of Threatened Species. It found that a quarter of the world’s freshwater fish are at risk of extinction. The update included evaluations of 1,640 species of freshwater fish that had never been assessed before, bringing the total to 14,898. That met the threshold of 80% of known species in the group, the point at which the IUCN considers a group of species to be comprehensively assessed.

“Climate change really compounds all of the other threats,” said Catherine Sayer, who leads the group’s freshwater biodiversity program. Atlantic salmon had been considered a species of least concern is now classified as near threatened. Their global population decreased 23% between 2006 and 2020, with climate change affecting them at all life stages. Dams cut them off from spawning and feeding grounds. Pollution from agriculture and logging kills their young.  Gilded catfish was previously categorized as least concern, is now considered vulnerable. Hydroelectric dams planned for the Madeira River Basin in Brazil and Bolivia are projected to cause a population decline of at least 37% within two decades.

The assessment of freshwater fish adds to a grim trend for biodiversity worldwide. Amphibians may be the most imperiled of vertebrates, with 40% threatened with extinction, and their status is deteriorating globally. For reptiles, 20% are considered threatened. Invertebrates are even harder to assess and protect. Current data shows that a third of all tree species are imperiled. Big leaf mahogany, long prized for its fine wood is harmed by illegal logging throughout its native range, from Mexico southward to Brazil and Bolivia. It moved from vulnerable to the more dire endangered category.

In 2022, nearly 200 nations agreed on a series of commitments to stanch biodiversity loss, including protecting 30% of Earth’s lands, freshwater and oceans by 2030. By the end of the year, UN officials are expected to report on what countries have done so far.

The US and 21 other countries (including Britain, France, Canada, Ghana, South Korea, Sweden and the UAE) pledged at COP28 to triple nuclear energy capacity by 2050, saying it was critical for cutting carbon emissions to near zero in the coming decades.  Nuclear energy supplies 18% of electricity in the US. Proponents say it is a clean, safe and reliable complement to wind and solar energy albeit expensive and funding is problematic.

John Kerry, the US climate envoy, said that there were “trillions of dollars” available that could be used for investment in nuclear. “We are not making the argument to anybody that this is absolutely going to be the sweeping alternative to every other energy source — no, that’s not what brings us here,” he said. But, he added, the science has shown that “you can’t get to net-zero 2050 without some nuclear.”

An International Energy Agency report last year said that nuclear was crucial to helping to reduce carbon emissions in line with the Paris Agreement goals outlined in 2015. President Macron of France said nuclear energy, which supplies about 70% of the country’s electricity, was an “indispensable solution” to efforts to curb climate change.

David Tong, a researcher at Oil Change International, said the pledge was divorced from the reality of nuclear energy. “It’s a self-serving political pledge that doesn’t reflect the role that nuclear is likely to play in the energy transition, which is menial,” he said. “There is very small growth in nuclear — certainly nothing like tripling.” Masayoshi Iyoda, an activist from Japan with, an international climate action campaign, cited the nuclear disaster at Fukushima in 2011 and said that nuclear power was a dangerous distraction from decarbonization goals. “It is simply too costly, too risky, too undemocratic, and too time-consuming,” he said. “We already have cheaper, safer, democratic, and faster solutions to the climate crisis, and they are renewable energy and energy efficiency.”

All but four of the 31 reactors that have begun construction since 2017 were designed by Russia or China, with China poised to become the leading nuclear power producer by 2030, the IEA said. This year, Germany shut its last three nuclear plants. Accidents at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania in 1979 and Chernobyl in 1986 led to a sharp decline in the industry. New technology and tighter regulations have been put in place since then and a growing number favor expansion in the US compared with a few years ago, according to a Pew Research Center study published in August.

The US and China announced an agreement in late November to sharply increase clean energy, displace fossil fuels and reduce the emissions that are warming the planet. The deal comes at a pivotal moment for the US, the biggest climate polluter in history, and China, currently the largest polluter. Together, they account for 38% of the world’s GHGs.

The countries agreed to “pursue efforts to triple renewable energy capacity globally by 2030,” and intend “to accelerate the substitution for coal, oil and gas generation.” Both countries anticipate that they will achieve “meaningful absolute power sector emission reduction” this decade. The agreement is short on enforcement mechanisms, but it does push forward on several fronts.

Both countries agreed that in next year’s national climate pledges, they would set reduction targets for all GHG emissions — not just CO2, but also methane, nitrous oxide and other planet warming gases. “Methane has been notably absent from China’s previous commitment under the Paris Agreement,” said David Waskow, international climate director at the World Resources Institute. “This announcement is a major step because China is the world’s largest methane emitter and serious actions to curb this gas is essential for slowing global warming in the near term.”

Alden Meyer, a senior associate at E3G, an environmental research organization based in Britain, said the U.S.-China language around displacing fossil fuels was “tortured” and did not clearly commit either country to take decisive action. “It really is silent on the need to phase down oil and gas emissions.”

The deal also does not include any promises by China to phase out its use of coal or to stop issuing permits for new coal plants and building them. Scientists say immediately reducing fossil fuel use is essential to avoid further catastrophic warming. “It is disappointing that the two nations said nothing about the need to rapidly transition away from fossil fuels this decade, which will be a central issue at the COP28 summit,” Waskow said. (See above.)

A recent report, The Lancet Countdown, states that climate change continues to have a worsening effect on health and mortality around the world, according to an international team of 114 researchers. Heat-related deaths of people older than 65 have increased by 85% since the 1990s. People in this age group, along with babies, are especially vulnerable to health risks like heat stroke. As global temperatures have risen, older people and infants now are exposed to twice the number of heat-wave days annually as they were from 1986 to 2005. Globally, exposure to extreme heat, and resulting losses in productivity or inability to work, may have led to income losses as high as $863 billion in 2022. And, in 2021, an estimated 127 million more people experienced moderate or severe food insecurity linked to heat waves and droughts, compared with 1981-2010. In the US, an estimated 23,200 older Americans died in 2022 because of exposure to extreme heat.

The Lancet Countdown projected that if the planet warms 2C compared with pre-industrial temperatures, an increasingly likely future unless society significantly reduces GHG emissions, the number of heat-related deaths each year will increase by 370% by the middle of this century.

Dr. Howard Frumkin, a former special assistant to the director for climate change and health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the report was a valuable dashboard but that the climate impacts he most worried about were those that led to people being displaced by climate change and migrating. “The diagnosis in this report is very clear,” Renee Salas, an emergency medicine physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School said. “Further expansion of fossil fuels is reckless and the data clearly shows that it threatens the health and well-being of every person.”

Dr. James Hansen, whose 1988 Congressional testimony helped make climate change a national issue, published a paper, Global Warming in the Pipeline, in early November. He asserts that the world’s climate is significantly more sensitive to carbon emissions than scientists have acknowledged, or the public appreciates, and that as a result, even those most focused on climate risks have been systematically underestimating how much warming the planet is likely to see over the next few decades.

He says that the more ambitious goal of the Paris Agreement, to limit warming to 1.5C is “deader than a doornail” and the agreement’s less ambitious goal, to which the signatories formally agreed, limiting warming to less than 2C, is on its deathbed. He predicts that we may cross the 1.5 degree threshold in the next few years and the 2C threshold in the next few decades (the IPCC’s estimates are similar).

“We would be damned fools and bad scientists if we didn’t expect an acceleration of global warming.” “One way to deal with this is just to wait,” since over time, the climate itself will answer our questions about what warming we should have expected. “But in this case, if we do that, young people are screwed. We have got to get this problem understood, or young people are in trouble. We need to get it understood as soon as possible.”

He predicts that SLR this century will be much greater than the IPCC assumes and that a collapse of one of the oceans’ major circulation systems is possible this century, much sooner than most believe. That would affect global climate which has been relatively stable for all human civilization.

The headline proposition of “Pipeline” concerns “equilibrium climate sensitivity,” an estimate of how much the planet would warm if global CO2 levels double from the preindustrial average (280ppm, we’re now at 417): 3C. Hansen and his co-authors now calculate it as 4.8C. Other reports, and the IPCC, have made similar estimates.

If the world decarbonizes rapidly, he wrote, different climate sensitivities could mean the difference between 2C warming and 3C, and if we decarbonize more slowly, that could be the difference between 3C and 4C. Given that every tenth of a degree is significant, uncertainties of this scale matter, but warming of 2C or more is a threat to the future of human civilization as we know it.

Heirloom Carbon Technologies operates the first commercial plant in the US to use direct air capture of CO2 which removes GHG from the atmosphere. Another plant is operating in Iceland, and some scientists say that given the alarming impacts of climate change any and every technique to reduce GHG levels should be employed.  In California, Heirloom works with CarbonCure, a company that mixes the gas into concrete where it mineralizes and can no longer escape into the air. In future projects, Heirloom plans to pump CO2 into underground storage wells, burying it. The company sells carbon removal credits to companies to offset their emissions. Microsoft agreed to pay Heirloom to remove 315,000 tons of CO2 from the atmosphere.

The company’s first facility in Tracy, Calif., which opened in early Nov., is small and can only absorb up to 1,000 tons of CO2 per year, equal to the exhaust from about 200 cars. “We want to get to millions of tons per year,” said Shashank Samala, the company’s chief executive.

Hundreds of start-ups have emerged. The Biden administration in August awarded $1.2 billion to help several companies, including Heirloom, build larger direct air capture plants in Texas and Louisiana. Companies like Airbus and JPMorgan Chase are spending millions to buy carbon removal credits to fulfill corporate climate pledges.

Critics say such removal is expensive, around $600 to $1,000 per ton of CO2, making it by far the most expensive way to curb emissions, even after new federal tax credits worth up to $180 per ton and could distract from efforts to reduce emissions. Heirloom hopes to reduce its costs to $100 per ton through economies of scale and mass-produced components. “We’ve seen this with solar panels, with gas turbines. As you deploy more, the costs come down,” said Julio Friedmann, chief scientist of Carbon Direct, a consulting firm. Environmentalists fear that oil companies investing in the technology will use it to prolong the use of fossil fuels.

In fact, Vicki Hollub, Occidental Petroleum’s chief executive, said the technology could “preserve our industry.” In response, Heirloom publicly pledged that it won’t accept investments from oil and gas companies or use its technology to enable fossil fuel production.

Occidental is also building a direct air capture plant in West Texas that can absorb 500,000 tons of CO2 per year. The company plans to inject some of the gas into depleted oil wells to extract more crude (enhanced oil recovery). Occidental said that emissions from the new oil would be offset by the injected CO2 that remained underground, creating a carbon-neutral fuel that could be used in airplanes or ships that are difficult to decarbonize.

Many say it may no longer be possible to keep global warming at 1.5C without direct air capture, as it removes far more carbon than can be achieved by planting trees. “The science is clear: Cutting back carbon emissions through renewable energy alone won’t stop the damage from climate change,” said Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm. “Direct air capture technology is a game-changing tool that gives us a shot at removing the carbon pollution that has been building in the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution.”

To build confidence in the market, the Energy Department in September announced it would buy $35 million worth of carbon removal credits from up to 10 providers, to establish new guidelines around what counts as a “high quality” project.

Former VP Al Gore said, “There’s a big difference between exploring an infant technology to see if it can be developed, versus telling the public, ‘If we do this, we can continue burning fossil fuels forever.’”

A United Nations-backed report issued in early November by researchers at the Stockholm Environment Institute, found that the 20 major fossil fuel producing nations of the world plan to keep increasing coal production until 2030 and oil and gas production decades beyond that. In 2030, if current projections hold, the US will drill for more oil and gas than at any point in its history and Russia and Saudi Arabia plan to do the same. The world remains on track to produce twice the amount of fossil fuels than a critical global warming threshold allows. As the leaders of 198 nations make lofty promises at COP28 to take stronger action on climate change, the report lays bare the reality of their nations’ actual production plans. Because of strong opposition from major fossil fuel producers, climate conferences have so far (including COP28) shied away from discussing the essential phaseout of fossil fuels.

“We cannot address climate catastrophe without tackling its root cause: fossil fuel dependence,” António Guterres, the UN secretary general, said. “Fossil fuel emissions are already causing climate chaos which is devastating lives and livelihoods,” he said. Yet, “governments are literally doubling down on fossil fuel production.”

Despite the Paris Agreement in 2015, the world remains on track to produce around 110% more oil, gas and coal through 2030 as would be allowable if governments wanted to limit warming to 1.5C, the researchers warned. The world was also set to overshoot, by 69% the amount of fossil fuels consistent with limiting warming to 2C.

US policies like fossil fuel subsidies and tax breaks continue to prop up production. Global fossil-fuel subsidies jumped to a record $7 trillion last year, according to the International Monetary Fund. That is more than governments around the world spend annually on education. Human beings have put about 1.6 trillion tons of carbon in the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution — more than the weight of every living thing on Earth combined. Oil, gas and coal companies have already made plans for infrastructure that, if used as intended, would cause the world to blow past the Paris Agreement target of 1.5C in the next few decades.

As noted briefly above, global temperatures are regularly shattering records and reaching dangerous new highs. Data from Berkeley Earth released in mid-October shows that September was an astounding 0.5C (almost a full degree Fahrenheit) hotter than the prior records, and July and August were around 0.3C (0.5F) hotter. 2023 is almost certain to be the hottest year since reliable global records began in the mid-1800s and probably for the past 2,000 years (and well before that).

There is now increasing evidence that global warming has accelerated over the past 15 years rather than continued at a gradual, steady pace. That acceleration means that the effects of climate change we are already seeing — extreme heat waves, wildfires, rainfall and sea level rise — will only grow more severe in the coming years.

The rate of warming measured over the world’s land and oceans over the past 15 years has been 40% higher than the rate since the 1970s, with the past nine years being the nine warmest years on record. There also has been acceleration over the past few decades in the total heat content of Earth’s oceans. And satellite measurements of Earth’s energy imbalance — the difference between energy entering the atmosphere from the sun and the amount of heat leaving — show a strong increase in the amount of heat trapped over the past two decades. If Earth’s energy imbalance is increasing over time, it follows that an increase in the world’s rate of warming is the result.

We have made real progress in slowing down the growth of CO2 and other GHG emissions, but they have yet to peak and decline. We are reaping the results of what the climate scientist James Hansen calls our “Faustian bargain” with air pollution where air pollution from sulfur dioxide and other hazardous substances in fossil fuels has had a strong temporary cooling effect on our climate. But as many countries have reduced such pollution, the cooling effect provided by these aerosols has fallen by around 30% since 2000 (and even more so since a decision to phase out sulfur in marine fuels in 2020). These reductions in pollution on top of continued increases in atmospheric GHG concentrations mean that we are now encountering some of the unvarnished force of climate change for the first time.

Very soon, with the acceleration, scientists predict that we will experience more of its effects: Ice sheets and glaciers will melt faster, extreme weather events will become more frequent, and more plants and animals will be put at risk of extinction. This acceleration closely matches what climate models have projected for this period.

We can control how warm the planet gets over the coming decades. Climate models have consistently found that once we reduce emissions to net zero, global warming will largely stop. The world will not cool back down for many centuries unless an enormous amount of CO2 is removed from the atmosphere. That is the brutal math of climate change and the reason we need to speed up efforts to reduce emissions significantly now.

We are making some progress. The world is on the brink of a clean energy transition. The International Energy Agency recently estimated that $1.8 trillion will be invested in clean energy technologies like renewables, electric cars and heat pumps in 2023, up from roughly $300 billion a decade ago. Prices of solar, wind and batteries have plummeted over the past 15 years, and for much of the world, solar power is now the cheapest form of electricity. If we reduce emissions quickly, we can switch from a world in which warming is accelerating to one in which it’s slowing. Eventually, we can stop it entirely. Can the global community act fast enough? So far, the answer is no.

In the last decade the cost of wind energy has declined by 70% and solar has declined 90%. Renewables now make up 80% of new electricity generation capacity. US GHG emissions are falling (7% since 1990 and 20% since 2005) while GDP and population grow. If global emissions fall dramatically, and they could, global warming may never reach 2C. This will require large-scale changes in infrastructure and behavior as well as removing carbon from the atmosphere, but it is theoretically doable.

Eliminating the sources of GHG emissions will make our air and water cleaner, our economy stronger and our quality of life better. It would save hundreds of thousands possibly millions of US lives through air quality benefits alone. Using land more wisely can both limit climate change and protect biodiversity. Climate change most strongly affects low-income and communities of color, children and the elderly. Climate action could redress legacies of racism, neglect and injustice.

A study published in Nature in early September found that coastal wetlands, mangroves and coral reef islands may not expand quickly enough to counteract the accelerating sea level rise due to climate change. The study emphasizes the critical importance of limiting global warming to below 2C (3.6F) for the survival of these critical, vulnerable coastal regions. Research shows that coastal marshes, mangroves, and reef islands are unlikely to keep pace with rates of SLR that exceed 7 millimeters (.25”) per year. This rate is likely to occur by the year 2100 in most parts of the world in the absence of major efforts to reduce GHG emissions.

Higher rates of SLR are already being observed along the Gulf Coast and previous research has shown that the current rate of SLR could drown marshlands in Louisiana, and possibly other areas along the Gulf Coast, in about 50 years. “Collectively, these are among the most valuable ecosystems on the planet. For example, the world’s fisheries depend to a significant extent on the health of coastal wetlands and coral reefs,” said the study’s co-author Torbjörn Törnqvist, the Vokes Geology Professor in Tulane’s Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

The study ties directly into the most recent SLR projections of the IPCC, published in 2021. The researchers found that if global warming remains below 2C compared to pre-industrial temperatures, these coastal ecosystems will probably survive along many of the world’s shorelines by 2100, but higher levels of warming will likely lead to widespread collapse. “This shows the importance of the Paris Agreement that aims to keep warming within 2C and ideally 1.5C,” Törnqvist said. “Clearly, this would make a huge difference for coastal ecosystems. However, right now we are on track for 2.4 to 3.5C of warming by the end of this century, so a change of course is desperately needed. And this would have to happen very quickly.”

Even with global warming of 1.5C, some coastal zones will lose their wetlands by the end of the century, including the Louisiana and Texas coastlines. The record-breaking heat across much of the world over the past few months shows that this level of warming may be reached within a matter of years.


The Environmental Protection Agency announced a new rule in early December to curb methane emissions. Methane, which escapes from oil and gas drilling sites, is 80 times more powerful than CO2 in terms of heating the atmosphere in the short term. The rule includes a calculation, the “social cost of carbon,” that would give the government legal authority to aggressively limit climate-warming pollution from sources including smokestacks and tailpipes. This social cost factor has been used since the Obama administration to calculate the harm to the economy caused by one ton of CO2 pollution. The metric is used to weigh the economic benefits and costs of regulations that apply to polluting industries. As scientists have increasingly been able to link planetary warming to wildfires, floods, droughts, storms and heat waves, estimates of the social cost of carbon have grown more sophisticated.

The higher the number, the greater the government’s justification for compelling polluters to reduce the emissions that are dangerously heating the planet. Obama’s White House economists calculated the social cost of carbon at $42 a ton. The Trump administration lowered it to less than $5 a ton. Biden returned the cost to Obama levels, adjusted for inflation and set it at $51. The revised and updated estimate is $190 a ton.

Michael Greenstone, the Obama administration economist who first came up with the idea of using the social cost of carbon to create an economic justification for climate policy, said “It brings the U.S. government to the frontier of climate science and economics, after we had fallen behind.” “And it means that it will be justified to have more stringent climate regulations. That will mean that polluting power plants and cars will not be able to emit as much.”

The new number will factor in EPA plans this spring to release final regulations to curb CO2 from cars, trucks and power plants. Plug the new number into the agency’s proposals to tighten tailpipe emissions or emissions from power plants, and the economic benefits of each rule could increase to more than $1 trillion, which exceeds the estimated cost to the affected industries. Similarly, it would apply to new rules to cut pollution from steel and cement plants, factories and oil refineries, which Biden may issue should he win a second term. “With such a high number, many more actions to fight climate change will pass the cost-benefit test,” said Michael B. Gerrard, director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University and co-chair of the Global Climate Change Committee, NYS Bar Association, Environmental & Energy Law Section.

Historically, if the government can show that the economic benefit of a regulation is greater than its cost, the courts uphold those rules against legal challenges. “This number means that the government has a weapon that it can use to justify anything it wants to do,” Elizabeth Murrill, the Republican solicitor general of Louisiana, said. She is part of a group of Republican state attorneys general that intends to fight the climate regulations which they see as a government assault on industry. “Now we’ve got a concrete application of the numbers and now we can go back and challenge everything again.”

EPA’s 182-page analysis documents the scientific and economic methods that it used to consider the damages to livelihoods, property values and commodity costs from climate change. “If you look at the recent National Climate Assessment these numbers reflect what the scientific community has said is the cost to society of climate change,” said Vicki Arroyo, EPA’s associate administrator for policy. She referred to the release in October of a sweeping report documenting the impact of climate change. The Assessment includes a chapter on economics, reflecting an expanding field of research into the financial costs of a warming planet and how they impact households, businesses and markets.

Researchers for the National Academies of Science concluded in 2017 that the Obama-era estimate that every ton of carbon pollution results in $42 of damage to the economy was outdated and recommended an update. A study last year in the journal Nature concluded the price should be $185 per ton.

The new House Speaker, Representative Mike Johnson comes from Louisiana oil country and has said he does not believe the science tying burning fossil fuels to the changing climate. He has received more campaign contributions from oil and gas companies than from any other industry last year ($240,000 since 2018, according to Open Secrets, a campaign finance watchdog).

Surveys show that climate science has been politicized in the US far beyond most other countries. A Pew Research Center survey in October found that a vast majority of Democrats polled (85%) said that climate change is an extremely or very serious problem, while 47% of Republicans viewed climate change as not too serious or not a problem at all.

Johnson, has consistently voted against dozens of climate bills and amendments, opposing legislation that would require companies to disclose their risks from climate change and bills that would reduce leaks of methane, a potent GHG, from oil and gas wells. He has voted to cut funding to the EPA. At a town hall in 2017, Johnson said: “The climate is changing, but the question is, is it being caused by natural cycles over the span of the Earth’s history? Or is it changing because we drive S.U.V.s? I don’t believe in the latter. I don’t think that’s the primary driver.”

After Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-NY) and Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) unsuccessfully filed “Green New Deal” legislation in 2019 to aggressively cut emissions, move the country toward 100% renewable energy and address a host of social issues, Johnson, then the chairman of the Republican Study Committee, issued a 13-page paper dubbing the climate plan “A Greedy New Steal.” He called the Democrats’ plan “a thinly veiled attempt to implement the policies that would usher in a new socialist society in America.”

Last year, when Democrats passed climate legislation that provided for investing $370 billion in clean energy, Johnson criticized it as a plan to send taxpayer dollars to “green energy slush funds.” Much of the private investment stemming from that law is taking hold in Republican-led states.

The League of Conservation Voters, an environmental group, gave Johnson a lifetime score of 2%. The American Energy Alliance, which represents fossil fuel interests, gave him a score of 100% in 2022. Heather Reams, president of Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions, a group that works with Republicans, said she expected that Johnson will try to repeal the Inflation Reduction Act.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg anounced a rule in late November to reduce GHG emissions from the nation's highways. It will require state and local transportation officials to set declining emissions targets for road projects funded with federal money. The rule could have a significant impact as federal funds are a major source of highway funding. The 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law could provide more than $100 billion for highway projects including $27 billion to help state and local governments reduce their emissions and $6.4 billion to help develop emissions-reductions strategies.

Rural states and Republicans in Congress oppose the rule. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), the ranking Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said that Congress specifically omitted authorization for GHG regulations from the infrastructure law. “Without the authority to impose this mandate, the FHWA [Federal Highway Administration] is ignoring the letter of the law.”

Jesse Piedfort, deputy director of the transportation for all campaign at the Sierra Club said the rule would encourage state and local governments to invest in public transit and improved access and safety for bicyclists and pedestrians. The rule requires state transportation departments and local metropolitan planning organizations to measure and report the amount of heat-trapping pollution that highway projects would create and then set targets to reduce their emissions over two or four years. The rule is like an Obama-era proposal that was rolled back during the Trump administration.

House Transportation and Infrastructure Chair Sam Graves (R-Mo.) has criticized the idea, and the House funding bill for the Transportation Department would prohibit spending funds under the rule or any successor rules.

House Transportation and Infrastructure ranking member Rick Larsen (D-Wash.) said “Measuring and reporting the amount of greenhouse gases coming from vehicles on our roads is a key step in achieving a more sustainable transportation future.”

In early September, Biden blocked drilling on millions of acres of Alaskan tundra.  In the months since he approved the Willow drilling project, his administration has curtailed fossil fuel activities on millions of acres of public land and in federal waters, including barring drilling on 1.8 million acres in Wyoming and on more than a million acres of public land in Colorado. The administration insulated more than 336,400 acres of public land around Chaco Culture National Historical Park (NM) from new oil and gas leasing and mining claims for the next two decades and said it would remove about six million acres of potentially oil-rich areas from a federal lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico that is required by law.

The Interior Department has also raised the royalties for the first time since 1920 that fossil fuel companies must pay to mine oil, gas and coal from public lands while increasing more than tenfold the cost of the bonds that companies must pay before they start drilling. The Bureau of Land Management intends to change how it manages the 245 million acres under its control by allowing conservation leases, like the way the agency auctions off parcels for drilling and mining.

The entire Alaska delegation condemned Biden’s decision to prohibit drilling in 13 million acres of pristine wilderness in the National Petroleum Reserve and cancel all drilling leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski said, “Now the Biden administration, at a time when America and our allies need Alaska’s resources more than ever, has decided to go their own way by further locking Alaska down while refusing to consult with the Alaska Natives who actually live on the North Slope.”

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) said the administration was “caving to the radical left with no regard for clear direction from Congress or American energy security.” In 2022 when Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act, to get Manchin’s vote, Biden agreed to include a mandate for new oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere.

Last year, the BLM analyzed 646 parcels covering 733,000 acres of federal land that the oil industry had sought for leasing. The agency cut that down by 80%, offering just 173 parcels on 144,000 acres.

Kristen Monsell, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, said the president’s Alaska protections were insufficient at a time of climate crisis. She assailed the Interior Department for holding a congressionally mandated oil and gas lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico, despite the agency limiting the area to reduce the risks to the endangered Rice’s whale. Scientists estimate there may only be only 51 of those whales remaining in the Gulf. “Keeping options open for any new oil and gas drilling could lock us into more fossil fuel emissions for decades to come, and we can’t afford that,” Ms. Monsell said.

Oil executives said they saw a sustained attack on their industry by the Biden administration that only briefly receded last year in the heat of the Ukraine war and skyrocketing gas prices. “What we’re seeing right now is, on all federal lands and all federal waters, they are doing everything they can to stifle production in the United States,” said Mike Sommers, president of the American Petroleum Institute.

Domestic oil production has increased by 1.3 million barrels a day since 2022 and is expected to hit records in 2023 and 2024, according to the Energy Information Association. Natural gas production is also expected to continue to grow. Mr. Somers argued that most of that growth is on private lands.

The Biden administration announced plans in mid-October to award up to $7 billion to create seven regional hubs around the country that will make and use hydrogen, a clean-burning fuel with the potential to power ships or factories without producing any planet-warming emissions.

Hydrogen is a promising tool to fight climate change, if it can be produced without creating any GHGs. When burned, hydrogen mainly releases water vapor. Yet very little of this so-called clean hydrogen exists today. By awarding the grants, the Biden administration is trying to jump-start an entire industry.

Dozens of regions competed for the money, which will be awarded to proposed hydrogen projects on the Gulf Coast (Texas and Louisiana) and in the Mid-Atlantic (Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey), Appalachia (Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio), the Midwest (Illinois, Indiana and Michigan), the Upper Midwest (Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota) and the Pacific Northwest (Washington, Oregon and Montana). A proposed hub in California will also receive funding.

“Clean hydrogen produced with resources like wind and solar, that lets us get to this place where we’re not putting more carbon in the atmosphere,” Biden said. “All across the country, from coast to coast, in the heartland, we’re going to build a clean energy future here in America, not somewhere else.”

In theory, hydrogen could be used to help produce steel, cement, chemicals and fertilizer as well as to power trucks, ships or airplanes or to produce electricity, all without emitting the GHGs. The question is how to manufacture hydrogen cleanly. Companies usually extract hydrogen from natural gas in a process that emits large amounts of CO2. But it is also possible to produce hydrogen without any emissions, via wind turbines or solar panels to power electrolyzers that can split water into hydrogen and oxygen. But such production is two to three times as expensive as making it with natural gas.

To help start a hydrogen economy, Congress approved $8 billion for the regional hydrogen hubs as part of the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. As part of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, lawmakers approved a hefty tax credit for companies that produce low-emissions hydrogen, in the hopes of driving down the cost of production. The Department of Energy estimates that those laws could promote the use of cleaner forms of hydrogen that could grow to 10 million tons per year by 2030.

The different hubs have different approaches. The proposed hub in California intends to produce hydrogen from renewable energy and use the fuel to power heavy-duty trucks and port operations in Long Beach, Los Angeles and Oakland. The proposed hub in Illinois, Indiana and Michigan plans to use electricity from existing nuclear reactors to produce hydrogen and would explore whether the fuel could be used in steel and glass production, refineries, power plants and airplanes. The Appalachian hub covering parts of Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio, is expected to continue to use natural gas to produce hydrogen, but companies will seek to capture CO2 emissions from the process and bury it underground. That proposal was backed by Senator Manchin.

The $7 billion in funding will be spent incrementally. First, the Energy Department will give awardees initial grants to create more detailed proposals for their hydrogen hubs. If the agency deems the projects viable, it will disburse more money over time — but that money is not guaranteed if any of the hubs prove unworkable.

Many hydrogen producers are waiting for the IRS to issue rules regarding a lucrative tax credit for low-emissions hydrogen that could ultimately be worth hundreds of billions of dollars. That guidance has been the subject of intense lobbying. Environmental groups and some hydrogen companies have argued that strict safeguards are needed around the tax credit to ensure that emissions from the electricity sector don’t rise when wind or solar power are diverted to produce hydrogen. But business groups argue that strict rules could stymie the industry altogether. “The hydrogen hub money pales in comparison to that tax credit,” said Bryan Fisher, a managing director at RMI, a nonprofit organization that supports clean energy. “Everyone’s waiting to see how that gets resolved.”

The Biden administration announced in late September that it would offer leases to oil companies in just three new areas in the Gulf between 2024 and 2029, the smallest number of lease sales offered since the federal drilling program began decades ago. Under the Inflation Reduction Act, the government must offer leases for oil drilling before it can invite developers to build wind farms in federal waters. Producing clean electricity from wind turbines is one of Biden’s top priorities.

The 1953 Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act requires a plan to be updated every five years that specifies where the government will lease its offshore mineral, gas and oil resources. The last version of the plan under Obama expired in 2022. Trump proposed opening virtually all US waters to oil and gas drilling but declared a moratorium off the coasts of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina after Republican leaders in those states said they feared drilling could mar beaches and harm tourism. His plan was never finalized. Biden’s plan will undergo a 60-day congressional review before it can be implemented. Biden’s five-year plan is significant because the government cannot conduct any lease sales that are not specified in the plan, and the time frame determines the actions of a future administration.

The oil industry, which had pressed for unfettered access to waters around the US, warned that limiting its opportunities to drill would lead to higher gas prices and force the country to increase oil imports from countries with lax environmental standards. Mike Sommers objected that “This restrictive offshore leasing program is the latest tactic in a coordinated strategy to reduce energy production, ultimately weakening America’s energy dominance, limiting consumers’ access to affordable, reliable energy and compromising our ability to lead on the global stage.” (The US is currently the top oil producer in the world and is on track to set a production record in 2023.)

Climate advocates want the administration to end new leasing altogether. Scientists around the world have said that nations must stop new fossil fuel projects to prevent the most cataclysmic impacts of global warming. “This decision is beyond disappointing,” Beth Lowell, the vice president of Oceana, an environmental group, said in a statement. “Expanding dirty and dangerous offshore drilling only exacerbates the climate catastrophe that is already at our doorstep.”

Emissions from burning fossil fuels extracted from federal lands and waters account for almost 25% of US GHG emissions, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Increasingly, development of coal, oil and gas is taking place on private lands. Environmental groups note that oil and gas companies are sitting on thousands of unused leases on federal lands and waters and say they don’t need more. Limiting potential leases puts the plan in line with Biden’s goal for the US to stop adding GHGs to the atmosphere by 2050 and to cut emissions roughly in half by the end of this decade.

Republicans and oil industry leaders are expected to challenge the new five-year plan in court, although that may prove difficult because the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act does not require a minimum number of lease sales. But the IRA of 2022 requires the government to first offer at least 60 million acres offshore in the previous year for oil and gas leasing as a condition of leasing waters for wind farms. The provision was included in the law by Senator Manchin, a fossil-fuel-friendly Democrat.

Biden has set a goal of deploying 30 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030, enough to power 10 million homes. The administration said that it had already approved four commercial-scale offshore wind projects and that it expected to review at least 16 more offshore wind projects by 2025. Together, they would produce more than 27 gws of electricity.

In early September, the Biden administration cancelled a set of leases auctioned unlawfully during the final days of the Trump administration and added protections against future fossil fuel development across Alaska’s Arctic lands. These leases were the first ever in the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The BLM released a draft impact statement detailing the potential impacts of oil and gas development in the Arctic Refuge, which will guide future leasing decisions and provide additional environmental protection.

The BLM also proposed new land management regulations for the Reserve that would curb leasing in designated special areas including wetlands surrounding Teshekpuk Lake. These wetlands are crucial habitat including birds from every continent which have been spotted in there. The BLM will be required to consider new special areas at least every 5 years.

The new protections for the Reserve are mostly focused on lands never leased to the fossil-fuel industry. But millions of acres in this region have already been leased, including those involving ConocoPhillips’ highly controversial Willow Project. Willow is a hub for future fossil-fuel extraction that could expand outward from the project site. The project itself is expected to add about 260 million metric tons of carbon emission into the atmosphere over the next 30 years, the equivalent of an extra 2 million cars on the road each year for 30 years.

Biden also halted exploration for the Peregrine project in the southern Reserve. The federal government settled a lawsuit and agreed to do a new impact review before approving any future work. If developed, Peregrine could produce 1.6 billion barrels of petroleum from the Reserve, more than twice what is projected from Willow. Additional projects on existing leases could still result in the extraction of several billion barrels of oil in the coming years. Environmentalists are pushing for the administration to conduct a climate assessment across all the Reserve’s land .open to leasing and development and align Biden’s policy and federal climate goals to end new projects here.

The views expressed above are my own.

Carl Howard, Co-chair, Global Climate Change Committee