Climate Compass Blog
I had the privilege of providing input to the new International Energy Agency (IEA) report, Redrawing the Energy-Climate Map. I am grateful that the IEA produced this special report, which endeavors to keep open the option of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius by keeping the concentration of greenhouse gases below 450 parts per million (CO2-equivalent).
To many, the traditional 450 scenario published each year in IEA’s World Energy Outlook (WEO) appeared aspirational rather than practical, leaving influencers and policymakers with few realistic options. The modified 450 scenario, “4-for-2 ?C,” addresses this concern by recommending specific, actionable policies.
The informal summit between the presidents of China and the United States last week yielded one very one important climate-related agreement. After years of opposing international efforts to restrict hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs - a potent family of greenhouse gases), China has now agreed to cooperate with the United States and most other nations in moving forward to phase down the use of these chemicals under the Montreal Protocol.
The Montreal Protocol is the international treaty agreed to in 1987 that restricts the production and use of ozone-depleting substances with the goal of restoring the earth’s protective ozone layer. Widely hailed as the most successful international environmental treaty, it has been ratified by all 197 states. While not its primary objective, the treaty has also played an important role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and now appears on track to play an even larger role.
While global greenhouse gas emissions continue to soar, U.S. emissions are back down to where they were in the mid-1990s. This decline is partly due to the economic downturn, but a key contributor has been electricity generators’ shift from coal to natural gas.
The National Journal Energy Experts blog asked this week whether we need to rethink the global warming debate, given the gridlock in Congress. My response is, by all means, we need to change the debate about climate change. But that starts well beyond the Beltway, where farmers, coastal residents, small-town mayors and others are feeling its impact – and are seeing the opportunities in a clean energy future.
Hurricane season officially starts June 1 and it looks like a busy one in the Atlantic. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) expects a well above-average hurricane season with 13 to 20 named storms. Seven to 11 of them could develop into hurricanes and three to six of those could be major (defined as category 3 or higher). The average over about the past 30 years is 12 named storms, six hurricanes, and three major hurricanes per season.