Germany Is Showing the Rest of the World How to Tackle Global Warming

Read the full story at Mic.com. (H/T to Charlotte Roh for the link).

On Sunday, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton unveiled the first major commitments of her climate change policy. Her plan centers on dramatically increasing renewable energy sources in the United States, with the goal of having 33% of the country’s power generation come from renewable sources by 2027. While commentators debate how realistic her goals are and whether they’re adequate for meeting the challenge of climate change, they might do well to look across the Atlantic for some inspiration.

Last week, Germany hit an extraordinary milestone: On July 25th, 78% of the country’s electricity was generated by renewable energy sources.

A ‘Third Way’ to Fight Climate Change

Read the full opinion piece in the New York Times.

Two options for dealing with climate change — reducing greenhouse gas emissions through a global agreement, and geoengineering proposals such as injecting sulfur into the stratosphere — tend to dominate current thinking. But there is a “third way” that is almost entirely neglected in political negotiations and public debate. It involves capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing it or using it to create things we need. Because of the scale of the climate problem, I believe that in coming decades third-way technologies will become a major focus of activity.

Beyond carbon: Emissions cuts the energy industry has missed

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

As we enter the second half of the year, activity is picking up in advance of the United Nations’ COP21 climate summit in Paris this December.

China just released its “Intended Nationally Determined Contribution” to peak its carbon-dioxide emissions around 2030. And in June, six oil and gas majors — BG Group, BP, Eni, Royal Dutch Shell, Statoil and Total — published a joint letter to the U.N. and international governments to affirm their own climate commitments and call for action to ensure we remain within the 2 degrees Celsius threshold.

Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, responded with her own open letter to welcome the oil and gas industry’s efforts and suggest ways they can support government action.

Whatever Paris delivers, the energy sector can make immediate progress to build momentum for the transition to a low-emissions economy. The industry is uniquely positioned to address short-lived climate pollutants — black carbon, methane, tropospheric ozone and hydrofluorocarbons — through fast mitigation.

Indeed, up to 1 degree C (PDF) of temperature rise can be avoided this way. Based on BSR’s work with the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC), there are three main areas where the sector can make progress on short-lived climate pollutants:

Inslee: I’ll use my authority to impose cap on emissions

Read the full story in the Seattle Times.

Frustrated by legislative inaction on climate, Gov. Jay Inslee plans to wield his administration’s executive authority to impose a binding cap on carbon emissions in Washington state.

Inslee on Tuesday directed the state Department of Ecology to step up enforcement of state pollution laws and develop the emissions cap — aimed at enforcing greenhouse-gas-reduction targets that have been in state law since 2008.

Sources: EPA will ease deadlines on pollution rule to help states comply

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

The Obama administration has decided to give states more time to comply with proposed regulations that will require dramatic cuts in greenhouse-gas pollution from power plants, people familiar with the plans said Tuesday.

The Environmental Protection Agency will give states an additional two years — until 2022 — to begin phasing in pollution cuts, even as the agency toughens the standards that many states will ultimately have to meet.

At the same time, the EPA will offer credits and other inducements to encourage a rapid shift to renewable energy under the Clean Power Plan, the administration’s ambitious and controversial proposal to cut pollutants blamed for climate change, said two people briefed on internal deliberations.

Stop trying to put climate change in a box

Read the full story at Grist.

In the story of the blind men and the elephant, the trunky mammal is misidentified as a spear, a tree, a wall, a rope; the men are too siloed from one another to fully discern the animal they’re patting down. Today, the old metaphor from the Indian subcontinent is mostly used in corporate retreats and master’s of public policy programs to demonstrate the gains of synergy (or something thereabouts). There’s a new elephant lurking in the room, though, and its name is climate change.

A new report on the global risks of a changing climate, commissioned by the U.K. Foreign Office, suggests that we’re still mistaking the elephant for a spear. “In public debate, we have sometimes treated it as an issue of prediction, as if it were a long-term weather forecast,” writes Baroness Joyce Anelay, minister of state at the Foreign Office, in her introduction to the report. “Or as purely a question of economics — as if the whole of the threat could be accurately quantified by putting numbers into a calculator.”

It can’t, she argues. At the systemic level, we ought to be as serious about preventing climate change as we are about “preventing the spread of nuclear weapons.” In fact, taking systemic risks into account is the only responsible way to prioritize a national agenda in the face of competing goals (say, economic growth or reducing unemployment), writes Anelay.

Playing ‘tag’ with pollution lets scientists see who’s It

Read the full story from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Using a climate model that can tag sources of soot from different global regions and can track where it lands on the Tibetan Plateau, researchers have determined which areas around the plateau contribute the most soot — and where. The model can also suggest the most effective way to reduce soot on the plateau, easing the amount of warming the region undergoes.

The work, which appeared in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics in June, shows that soot pollution on and above the Himalayan-Tibetan Plateau area warms the region enough to contribute to earlier snowmelt and shrinking glaciers. A major source of water, such changes could affect the people living there. The study might help policy makers target pollution reduction efforts by pinpointing the sources that make the biggest difference when cut.