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Climate Summit Coverage: A Roundup of Links

San Francisco Public Press
 — Sep 13 2018 - 10:40am

San Francisco hosted the two-day Global Climate Action Summit, which ended Friday. The gathering, at the Moscone Convention Center, featured dozens of prominent officials, scientists, business leaders and innovators. Here's a sampling of articles from, about or related to the official summit, the scores of affiliated events happening around the city and region, and climate-related news and research.

Saturday

California Had Its Own Climate Summit. Now What?

The New York Times looks back to look ahead: “For years, presidents and prime ministers have been the public face of the fight against climate change, gathering at United Nations summit meetings and pressuring each other to reduce emissions.

“The results have often been lackluster.

“A climate conference in California this week tried something different.”

By announcing California's first satellite launch, Gov. Jerry Brown ends climate summit with a cosmic boom

Closing the summit Friday, Gov. Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown said California would launch its own satellite to gather data on global warming.

“We’re under attack by a lot of people, including Donald Trump, but the climate threat still keeps growing,” Brown said, the Los Angeles Times reported, among many others. “So we want to know what the hell’s going on, all over the world, all the time. So we’re going to launch our own satellite, our own damn satellite, to figure out where the pollution is and how are we going to end it.”

The governor said that the state would develop the satellite with the San Francisco-based Planet Labs,  and that several satellites may launched eventually.

Brown first uttered his own-damn-satellite pledge in December 2016, a month after Trump was elected.

Also: The Mercury News, San Francisco Chronicle, CALmatters
How Jerry Brown Became ‘Governor Moonbeam’ (New York Times)
California wants to go carbon-negative. No one knows the cost

The San Francisco Chronicle writes: “By the middle of this century, Gov. Jerry Brown wants California to pull more greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere every year than it puts in.

“That vision will almost certainly cost Californians. No one can say how much, however, because no one quite knows how we’ll achieve it.”

How Los Angeles Is Helping Lead the Fight Against Climate Change

Wired: “Los Angeles doesn’t have a great environmental reputation. It’s the car capital of the United States. It’s famous for its curtains of smog, and for stealing a bunch of water once.

“But the city is in the midst of a metamorphosis. With fewer, yet stronger storms on the horizon, it’s begun an ambitious plan to cut its reliance on imported water in half by 2025. And it’s emerging as a leader in the frantic international quest to curb emissions—in 2016 alone, it slashed emissions by 11 percent, the equivalent of taking more than 700,000 cars off the road.”

Climate conference shows divide among Democrats over how to counter global warming

From the Washington Post: “The organizers of a climate-change conference here in California wanted their three-day summit to be a repudiation of President Trump. And during many speeches, and commitments from cities and companies to reduce their impact on the environment, it was.

“But at other times both in and outside the convention center in San Francisco, activists protested against the current Democratic approach. The clash marked a high-profile schism between the middle- and far-left segments of the Democratic coalition about how forcefully to address climate change.”

Also: Global Climate Summit: The movement to save us from ourselves (The Hill)
Politicize the weather (The Week)
Climate Yo-Yos Yammer and Yell About Trump (American Greatness)
This is how the world ends: will we soon see category 6 hurricanes?

As Hurricane Florence drowns North Carolina, the Guardian writes that although a category 6 hurricane or tropical storm does not exist, that could soon change.

Today, “there is anywhere from 5 to 8% more water vapor circulating throughout the atmosphere than there was a generation ago. This, combined with warmer temperatures that are driving water up from the deep ocean in places where hurricanes typically form, has created the potential for superstorms that we haven’t seen before – and aren’t really prepared for.

“This combination of warmer oceans and more water in the earth’s atmosphere – whipsawed by sustained periods of drier and wetter conditions in regions of the world that create superstorms – is now starting to create storms with conditions that look precisely what a category 6 hurricane would look like.”

Also: Man-made climate change is boosting Hurricane Florence’s predicted rainfall by 50 percent (Technology Review)
'This one feels different': Hurricane Florence can start a new conversation (Guardian)
How Can AI Help to Prepare for Floods in a Climate-Changed World? (Scientific American)
How Americans came to their senses about climate change

From The Week: “Climate change is no longer some remote threat that can be dealt with by our great-grandchildren. It is here. Thankfully, more people seem to be waking up to reality.”

The Divestment Movement to Combat Climate Change Is All Grown Up

From The New Yorker: “The divestment movement, which began as little more than a campus protest, has been building extraordinary momentum in recent years.”

Also Thursday, below: Catholic Institutions Unite for Fossil Fuel Divestment

Friday

Al Gore says US can rejoin Paris Agreement

From the Associated Press: “Former Vice President Al Gore says a new president can with 30-days notice get the United States back into the international climate agreement that President Trump pulled of last year.”

Earlier, former U.S. Secretary of State and Sen. John Kerry criticized Trump for pulling out of the accord, which he called ““single greatest act of irresponsibility of any President of the United States at any time.”

Brown Signs Bills to Promote Zero-Emission Vehicles, Reduce Carbon Emissions

Gov. Jerry Brown has signed eight bills “aimed at dramatically reducing carbon emissions by boosting the number of zero-emission vehicles and charging stations in California and getting dirty cars and trucks off the road,” the governor's office reported. The signing occurred aboard a new hybrid electric ferry from the Red and White Fleet making its maiden voyage on San Francisco Bay. See the particulars of each bill.

The San Francisco Chronicle writes that the  measures “seek to put more electric vehicles on the road and demand that ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft deploy cleaner, greener cars. ... The laws introduce several new initiatives, including electrification of school buses and a permanent extension of the vanpools that carry farmworkers to their fields.”

Bike lane protest highlights hypocrisy of ride-hail use at Global Climate Summit

The San Francisco Examiner's Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez writes: ”While hundreds of protesters filled the streets to protest the Global Climate Aciton Summit’s broad, sweeping discussions over climate change, a smaller protest nearby made a far more focused point:

“Why are so many people attending the summit arriving and leaving by ride-hails like Uber and Lyft?”

Also: SF must walk (and bike and bus) its talk on climate (Examiner)
Trump condemned over plans to allow drilling near national parks

The Guardian reports: “Democrats and conservatives alike are decrying moves by the Trump administration to permit oil and gas drilling near national parks and in wildlife migration corridors, and charge that the public is not being adequately consulted.

“Officials from the US interior department are pursuing an “energy first” agenda, and some 2.9m acres are up for lease auction, including many parcels close to recreation areas such as Petrified Forest national park in Arizona, Chaco Culture national historical park in New Mexico, and Dinosaur national monument in Colorado.”

Hurricane Florence’s Unusual Extremes Worsened by Climate Change, Scientists Say

Inside Climate News writes: “Researchers estimate the storm’s rainfall forecast is 50 percent higher because of warmer oceans and more moisture in the atmosphere brought by global warming”

Also: NASA-NOAA Satellite Sees Land-falling Hurricane Florence
Court Upholds Illinois Nuclear Subsides Law in Important Win for Clean Energy

More from Inside Climate News: “A federal appeals court on Thursday upheld a 2016 Illinois law that provides subsidies to nuclear power plants and also supports clean energy programs in the state.

“It's the latest of several federal rulings to uphold the right of states to regulate electricity prices within their borders, giving states latitude to subsidize certain energy sources.”

Utilities’ Solar Purchasing Is Booming Despite Trump's Tariffs

Greentech Media reports: “The U.S. solar market has experienced a tumultuous few quarters since the government last year began considering tariffs on imported solar modules and cells, but data for the second quarter of 2018 show signs of a turnaround in the market.”

It's the first quarter in which “the data clearly show that tariffs took a bite out of the solar market.”

Also: Solar Broke Records All Over Europe This Summer (Greentech Media)
Climate data exhibit pink noise

For non-geeks, this research, reported by Physics World, may be the ultimate head-scratcher:

“Climate data from the last century and paleoclimate information from the last 100,000 years both exhibit pink noise.”

The finding, by scientists from the United States, Sweden and the United Kingdom, “indicates that the pink noise is a feature of natural climate variability.”

Just what is pink noise? It is “random, with every octave containing the same amount of energy; it also occurs in earthquakes, stellar luminosity and electronics. Pink noise has more low-frequency components than white noise and gets its name as visible light with that energy spectrum would appear pink.”

Indigenous peoples, key to saving forests, catch a break

From PhysOrg: “Proven masters at sustainably managing forests that protect against global warming, indigenous peoples got a place at the table, and some cash, at an international climate summit in San Francisco this week.

“New ’guiding principles’ for collaboration endorsed by three dozen mostly tropical provinces and states across nine countries bolster indigenous rights to land, self-governance and finance earmarked for safeguarding forests.”

Mary Nichols, chair of the California Air Resources Board, said: "The partnership between governments and indigenous leaders marks a paradigm shift for tribal and indigenous engagement."

The next best thing to Paris: California’s climate summit

Grist and Mother Jones offer team coverage on the gathering, which they call “the latest last-ditch effort to bring the world together on climate change.”

3 States Announce Plans to Phase Out Climate Super-Pollutants Used in Cooling

New York, Maryland and Connecticut this week followed California's lead in phasing out hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), the powerful greenhouse gases used in air conditioners and refrigeration, Inside Climate News reports.

It’s Not a Trump Boom, It’s an Oil and Gas Boom

This Bloomberg opiner emphasizes the central role of fossil-fuel extraction, production and delivery in the current economic growth — and highlights the disconnet with their environmental impact, or the offsetting economic and individual costs. No mention of climate, climate change, greenhouse gases or the environment.

EIA Report Says Coal Still King on State-by-State Basis

From POWER Magazine: “A report this week from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) shows coal-fired power was still the major source of generation on a state-by-state basis in 2017, though natural gas-fueled electricity production slightly outpaced coal overall.”

Catholic Institutions Unite for Fossil Fuel Divestment

From the Ignatian Solidarity Network: "Catholic institutions from around the world are making new commitments to divest from fossil fuels. A group of 19 institutions, led by Caritas India and the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, announces its divestment today. The full list of divesting institutions is available here.”

Thursday

Gov. Brown opens climate summit with rebuke of Trump and cautious optimism

The Los Angeles Times writes: “Gov. Jerry Brown and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg came out swinging as they officially opened the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco on Thursday morning. Bloomberg vowed he would spend significant resources to elect congressional candidates who will fight Trump on climate and gun safety. Brown announced that Trump’s decision to relax rules on methane emissions borders ‘not only on insanity but criminality.’

“Yet they struck an optimistic note in remarks to reporters, where they unveiled a report showing the progress cities, states and businesses are making in carrying the country toward meeting the goals of the Paris agreement on climate change that Trump has disavowed.”

Protesters gathering in S.F., say climate change leaders not doing enough

The Chronicle reports that hundreds of demonstrators “crowded the streets of downtown San Francisco Thursday morning, banging drums and chanting as they called on local and world leaders at the Global Climate Action Summit to do more to address climate change and pollution.”

Also: Hundreds march in SF against governor’s Global Climate Action Summit (S.F. Examiner)
Brown, Bloomberg (and their agenda) face protests at Climate Action Summit (48hills)
Undaunted by Trump, climate activists and leaders are meeting to plan their next move

Grist writes that the summit is “a reminder of how far the world is from avoiding the worst effects of climate change, and how critical the next few years are for determining future global health and stability.

“In some ways, the event is a response to the call by the 2015 Paris negotiations for a more active role by subnational actors — jargon for businesses, cities, states, or anything that is not a national government — in addressing climate change.”

The timing “is also significant, occurring during the midpoint between the Paris meeting and the next major deadline in 2020.”

Also: US activists launch climate change initiatives in absence of federal leadership (Guardian)
Jerry Brown: Trump's 'gross ignorance' main obstacle in climate change fight (Guardian)
A more inclusive Global Climate Action Summit can stop us from ‘losing Earth’ (Grist)
SF mayor urges global leaders to join city in climate change fight

Welcoming delegates to the summit, Mayor London Breed “called on cities around the world Wednesday to join San Francisco in making the fight against global warming a top priorit,” the San Francisco Chronicle writes.

Related: What you need to know (Chronicle)
Video highlights on Facebook (C40 Cities)
Can California Achieve a “Carbon Neutral” Economy?

Some experts told Scientific American that California Gov. Jerry Brown's executive order directing the state's entire economy to become carbon neutral by 2045  “is purely aspirational, as it doesn't include any mandates.” Others said it “tells state agencies to make it happen. As well, it leaves open the possibility of future technological developments.”

"It's going to create momentum toward that end goal, even if it doesn't specify how to achieve that end goal," said Tim O'Connor, senior director of Environmental Defense Fund's energy program in California. "Setting the policy and the vision, especially on something where we've got a 27-year runway, is the first step in achieving that final result."

Also: California has pledged to go carbon free by 2045. Is that realistic?
In 27 cities, emissions are declining and economies are growing

The L.A. Times reports: “Climate scientists warn that global emissions need to peak by 2020 if the planet is to dodge catastrophic warming. At the summit Thursday, 27 cities announced they have already met that goal, and their emissions are on the decline even as their economies are growing.

“These ‘peak emissions’ cities are home to some 54 million people. Their emissions have fallen over the last five years, and are dropping at an average of 2% per year even as their populations grow. Los Angeles and San Francisco are among the cities that have peaked.”

These Bay Area cities have the smallest – and largest – carbon footprints

The Bay Area News Group has an interactive map — based on a UC Berkeley data analysis — that compares CO2 outputs by neighborhood. See who's at the top (bad) and the bottom (good). 

How much global emissions cuts are needed to avoid catastrophic climate change?

The Los Angeles Times tallies the numbers.

Big Oil's Black Mark on California's Climate Record

Pacific Standard, in partnership with the Center for Public Integrity, writes: “The state's oil regulator has the dual burden of facilitating oil development while protecting the environment and public health. Can it do both?”

Also: A blind spot in Gov. Jerry Brown’s green worldview? Critics say yes—it’s oil (CALmatters)
Trumka: Labor ‘will not bear the cost of climate policy alone’

Organized labor stands ready to help combat climate change — but not if it means sacrificing well-paying jobs, AFL-CIO head Richard Trumka told an international audience of union officials in Berkeley on Wednesday.

“We’re willing to sacrifice, but we will not bear the cost of climate policy alone,” he said, Politico reported.

Voices from the climate change summit

Gathered by the Los Angeles Times.

Patti Smith rocks against climate change, headlining San Francisco concert

The Chronicle interviews the legendary punk musician, poet and author ahead of Friday's Pathway to Paris concert at the Masonic Auditorium.

Global coastal wetlands need to move inland in fight against climate change

“Up to 30 per cent of coastal wetlands could be lost globally by the year 2100 with a dramatic effect on global warming and coastal flooding, if action is not taken to protect them, new research warns,” Eurekalert reports.

Also: Sea level rise doesn’t necessarily spell doom for coastal wetlands (Science News)
Glaciers Falling on Tourists: Yet Another Danger of Climate Change

The Atlantic writes: “In recent years, people have been increasingly flocking to the world’s glaciers. This boom in ‘glacier tourism’ seems to be dually spurred, at least in part, by climate change: For one, people seem eager to glimpse the majestic monuments of ice before they melt away. And as ice sheets disappear, many glaciers are becoming more accessible—and unstable. The result is that places such as Exit Glacier are not only witnessing more tourists than ever crossing rocky, dangerous terrain; they’re also becoming better poised for those wrong place, wrong time misfortunes.”

For a world of rising sea levels, a showcase of proposed solutions

The Chronicle writes about the nine winners of the Resilient by Design Bay Area Challenge, which are on display in a pop-up storefront at 302 Folsom St. through Saturday. You can also find them online.

7 Climate Change Cartoons From Pulitzer Prize Winner Mark Fiore

KQED's in-house cartoonist aims “to put you in the mood. Or at least, a mood ....”

Finallydip into the Public Press archive for climate-related coverage:

Wild West on the Waterfront

Second in a series on sea-level rise, from the spring 2017 issue.

Sea Level Rise Threatens Waterfront Development

First in a series, from the summer 2015 issue.

Climate Change

California’s cap-and-trade program, from the summer 2013 issue.