Artic News

Drop in Renewable Costs Leads to Record Global Boost

By Damian Carrington, The Guardian Renewable energy capacity around the world was boosted by a record amount in 2016 and delivered at a markedly lower cost, according to new global data — although the total financial investment in renewables actually fell. The greater “bang-for-buck” resulted from plummeting prices for solar and wind power and led to new power deals in countries including Denmark, Egypt, India, Mexico and the United Arab Emirates all being priced well below fossil fuel or nuclear options. Gemasolar solar thermal power plant in Spain.Credit: Beyond Coal and Gas/flickr Analysts warned that the U.S.’s withdrawal from the Paris climate change agreement, announced last week by Donald Trump, risked the U.S. being left behind in the fast-moving transition to a low-carbon economy. But they also warned that the green transition was still not happening fast enough to avoid the worst impacts of global warming, especially in the transport…
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The Next March Is All About Climate Change

For the second weekend in a row, Washington, D.C. will be home to people clamoring for policies based on science. But unlike the March for Science, this weekend’s People’s Climate March will be overtly political and put a sharp focus on climate change and justice. The march builds on a 2014 landmark event that drew hundreds of thousands to the streets around the globe. Then, the push was for the world to deliver a climate deal, a goal achieved a year later in Paris. Hundreds of thousands turned out for the People's Climate March in New York, held in September 2014.Credit: Climate Action Network/flickr The climate action landscape has changed a lot since then, most notably by the election of President Trump. While some of his policies may be driving people to the streets on Saturday, Paul Getsos, the national march coordinator, said he wasn’t the initial impetus for the…
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Environmental Rules Played Minor Role in Coal’s Decline

Environmental and climate regulations that cut pollution from coal-fired power plants have played only a minor role in the decline of the coal industry, which has been hurt mainly by expanding use of natural gas and less demand for electricity, according to a Columbia University report published this week. U.S. coal use fell by about 30 percent between 2011 and 2016. The paper attributes about half of that decline to low natural gas prices, 26 percent to falling demand for electricity and 18 percent to growth in renewable energy such as wind and solar. Only 3.5 percent of the coal industry’s decline is due to environmental and climate regulations that took effect prior to 2016. A coal-fired power plant operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority.Credit: TVA/flickr The paper is among the first analyses to attribute specific factors in the decline of the coal industry in terms of percentages. Its conclusions…
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Here’s the Early Context for Trump’s Budget

The first federal budget process under the Trump administration has officially kicked off. But it’s a long, winding road to the final budget as President Trump lays out his expectations, agencies lay out theirs and the House and Senate weigh in. The opening salvo came on Monday, when administration officials said Trump plans to request a $54 billion increase in defense spending, which currently totals $584 billion and makes up 49 percent of the discretionary federal budget. The U.S. defense budget is the largest in the world, nearly tripling its closest competitor, China. To offset the increase, other agencies will have to cut their spending. President Trump speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference last week. Credit: Kevin Lemarque/Reuters As with all budgets, the devil is in the details. Those details will come into focus over the next few months. The early signs from Trump’s end indicate that past efforts to…
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Perry Dodges Climate Questions, Defends Energy Dept.

Energy secretary nominee Rick Perry fiercely defended the mission of the U.S. Department of Energy on Thursday, and told senators at his confirmation hearing that while he now believes in human-caused climate change, he questions the extent to which humans are influencing it. Perry, who as a presidential candidate said in 2011 that he’d eliminate the DOE, told senators that he regrets that remark and that his past positions do not reflect his “current thinking.” He said the department’s scientists and laboratories are “the envy of the world,” and he would court new “scientific minds” and defend their work even in the face of a movement within the Trump administration to threaten federal climate research. Rick Perry, energy secretary nominee and former Texas governor.Credit: Gage Skidmore/flickr “I’m going to protect all the science whether it’s related to climate or anything else we’re doing,” Perry said. “I am going to protect…
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Protection of Public Lands Cast in Doubt

Donald Trump’s election portends a major shift in how one of America’s greatest bulwarks against the impacts of climate change will be protected and used for fossil fuel development. Scientists and conservationists are just beginning to grasp what may lay ahead for more than 600 million acres of national forests, monuments, parks, conservation areas and other federal public lands. But, they say Trump’s statements promoting fossil fuels development on public lands make it clear that the days of managing these lands with renewable energy, conservation and climate change in mind may soon be over. The Bighorn Mountains are federally owned as part of Bighorn National Forest in northern Wyoming.Credit: Bobby Magill/Climate Central Federal lands make up roughly 27 percent of the land area of the U.S. — equivalent to the landmass of California, Texas and Alaska combined. The forests they preserve store carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and federal lands…
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