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Key actions on climate & energy at the Earth Summit in 2012

Carbon pollution from fossil fuel use reached the highest level yet in 2010, according to the International Energy Agency.  So should we throw up our hands?  No, this is a wake-up call that countries need to significantly speed up the pace of their action to reduce emissions.  And when they come to the Earth Summit in Rio next June – just one short year from now – they have a chance to do just that.  They better come prepared to implement new actions at home on climate and energy at the Earth Summit – held from June 4-6 in Rio …

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Congress should not try to stop the Europeans from controlling aviation's carbon pollution

Why would a reauthorization bill for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have anything to say about the steps that Europe is taking to reduce carbon pollution from aviation?  The answer should be nothing.  But unfortunately the US Senate is considering language passed by the House of Representatives that would signal unhappiness with Europe’s efforts to control the carbon pollution from aviation.  The Senate and the White House should reject this language as it is incorrect as a matter of law, would attempt to stop another country’s efforts to reduce carbon pollution, and would hamper incentives to enhance aircraft fuel efficiency …

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New NASA map shows how much carbon is stored in global forests

NASA has just released a new map which shows the carbon stored in the forests around the world.  While it doesn’t show us exactly which forests are at risk of deforestation – thus turning the current stored carbon into carbon pollution that causes global warming – it does provide us with a visual of what is at risk if we don’t successfully halt deforestation.  It is a very useful and critical assessment which will provide solid information in tracking efforts to address deforestation.    This assessment couldn’t come at a more critical time as deforestation rates in Brazil have recently …

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US Airlines Say they are “Green” while fighting Anti-Pollution Efforts

If an airline claims to be “green”, but is actively working to gut carbon pollution standards what would you do?  Since that is exactly what America, Continental, and United airlines are doing, major environmental groups sent a letter to the airlines asking them why they are spending their customers’ money on lawyers and lobbyists in an effort to thwart crucial carbon pollution cuts. In the letter, NRDC, Environmental Defense Fund, Center for Biological Diversity, Earthjustice, Environment America, and the Sierra Club urged the airlines to “drop the lawsuit, and join the future of low-carbon aviation by making your actions consistent …

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Climate legislation advances in 16 major countries

A new study [PDF] released by GLOBE international -- a coalition of legislators from around the world -- found that "climate change is featuring prominently on the legislative agenda across the 16 major economies." The study, conducted by the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at the London School of Economics, documents the kinds of actions that countries are taking at home to reduce their emissions. While it doesn't tell us the impact of those measures, it does show a growing commitment of countries to change their laws, policies, and regulations to address their carbon pollution. This is a focus that …

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Congress Passes a Budget That Doesn't Invest Enought in International Efforts to Curb Global Warming

The long drama of whether or not the US Congress would invest in international efforts to curb global warming pollution or gut these investments is finally over – at least for the rest of this fiscal year.  Last week President Obama signed into law a budget for the rest of this fiscal year (fiscal year 2011).  Investments in international climate activities fared alright.  The final bill would fund core international climate activities at $750-950 million, with other activities potentially adding to this total.  This is a continued investment in these critical programs, but still far away from the ultimate need. …

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International Action on Global Warming: Where is it headed in 2011?

Coming out of the successful global warming negotiations in Cancun, Mexico this past December a key question is where are things headed now?  Three words capture where international action on global warming needs to head: implementation, strengthening, and widespread.  On each of these there are important discussions about to occur as countries are meeting in Bangkok, Thailand for the first preparatory climate negotiations before the high-level meeting in Durban, South Africa (December 2011).  Beginning in Bangkok countries will have to show that the new spirit of working together that emerged in Cancun can produce tangible results that will spur and …

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President Obama's Trip through Latin America: Opportunity to Advance Action on Global Warming

President Obama will be travelling through Latin America March 19-23, 2011 with stops in Brazil, Chile, and El Salvador.  This is a region that has countries that are: major emitters, key players in global warming negotiations, taking action and ripe for further action, and on the front lines of the impacts of global warming.   As he meets with leaders in South and Central America he has an important opportunity to advance action on global warming.  The Latin American region is an important source of carbon pollution accounting for around 12% of the world’s global warming pollution.*  The majority of these …

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Dear Representative Upton: Have you been to China recently?

The House subcommittee voted for Representative Upton's unlimited carbon pollution bill (otherwise known as the Asthma Aggravation Act of 2011).  Before the subcommittee vote, Chairman Upton said: "Those that compete in global markets state that they are losing jobs to nations like China that have no intention of burdening their industries with similar restrictions. And once those jobs are gone, they're gone." (Greenwire, sub req.) Such an impression isn’t grounded in the facts and the evidence on the ground.  Here are some facts which would give you a different conclusion: China became the largest market for new clean energy investments …

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How to advance climate change & clean energy action at Rio+20 Earth Summit

The world’s leaders will be meeting June 4-6, 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for the Rio+20 Earth Summit.  This Summit is an important opportunity to advance concrete action on global warming.  Countries, companies, state and local governments, and civil society groups should be expected to come to Rio prepared to strengthen the implementation of their existing commitments and undertake new actions to reduce emissions.  One of roads to Rio should lead through clean energy and deforestation actions that help to address global warming pollution.  I’m in NY for preparatory meetings for Rio+20 so here are some initial thoughts as I …

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