State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

Climate News Roundup: Week of 5/01

California Gambles on Carbon Trade, New York Times, May 1

California state regulators are working to prepare for the January 1rst start of the multibillion-dollar carbon market, which will be the first in the U.S., after a lawsuit delayed the process. The courts are still a challenge with opponents striking from both the left and right of the political spectrum. Even if the market is delayed, most think it will be established eventually and perhaps change the direction of U.S. climate policy.

Climate scientists told to ‘stop speaking in code,’ Associated Press, May 4

Scientists at a major conference in Copenhagen on Arctic warming were told to use plain language to explain the dramatic melt in the region to a world reluctant to take action against climate change. An authoritative report released at the meeting of nearly 400 scientists in Copenhagen showed melting ice in the Arctic could help raise global sea levels by as much as 5 feet this century, much higher than earlier projections. Bogi Hansen, an expert on ocean currents from the Faeroe Islands, said one problem is that scientists can come off as unsure about conclusions because they are reluctant to talk about anything with 100 percent certainty.

Suit Accuses U.S. Government of Failing to Protect Earth for Generations Unborn, New York Times, May 4

In California, as in many other states, a coalition of environmental groups and children are suing the federal government for failing to protect the earth’s atmosphere as a public trust to be guarded for future generations. Although the public trust doctrine has been invoked in certain environmental cases, some justices are skeptical that this issue is within the realm of the judiciary branch, as opposed to the executive branch, namely the EPA under the Clean Air Act. Lawyers are unsure whether the case will gain traction and much will depend on the Supreme Court’s opinion, which will be issued this spring.

U.N. clean energy scheme grows, 3,000 projects so far, Reuters, May 5

The United Nation’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) is growing and has registered 3,000 carbon cutting energy projects to date. Under CDM, firms invest in projects that reduce climate-warming emissions in developing nations and receive credits called certified emissions reductions (CERs) in return. The scheme began in 2005 and has clean energy projects in 71 countries.

Banner featuring a collage of extreme heat images.

Recent record-breaking heat waves have affected communities across the world. The Extreme Heat Workshop will bring together researchers and practitioners to advance the state of knowledge, identify community needs, and develop a framework for evaluating risks with a focus on climate justice. Register by June 15

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