Thursday Heading into Summer Linkage – Climate Change Edition

7 May 2014, 2318 EDT

Apologies for the missing linkage from last week. I took a team of students to DC to present to policymakers the key findings from my year-long course on climate change and the major economies (see the embedded video at the bottom). The timing was opportune because this was a big week for climate policy. Thousands of world leaders gathered in Abu Dhabi to prepare for the UN Secretary General’s fall meeting on the topic. China appears poised to crack down on polluters. Though air pollution is the primary target, there may be potential co-benefits for the climate.

Here at home, the U.S. scientific community released a major report documenting the effects of climate change already buffeting the United States. Seizing on that report, the Obama administration redoubled its effort to change the political narrative in this country. Jon Huntsman weighed and encouraged the GOP to come around on climate. Meanwhile, the campaign to force universities to divest their fossil fuel holdings landed their first major achievement when Stanford agreed to divest from coal. Read on for links to these stories and more.

 Abu Dhabi Climate Leaders Event

Lots of different sectors and events covered. We shall see if it represents a real turn by global leaders to get serious.

  • UNDP Administrator Helen Clark calls for more action on forests
  • World Bank group pushing for a price on carbon
  • Shell’s climate change adviser wonders what happened to the discussion of carbon capture and sequestration


  • Is China getting serious on pollution?
  • Bill Antholis breaks down the challenges of a low carbon economy in China as it urbanizes
  • China’s efforts to gasify coal may yield less air pollution but even more carbon

The United States

  • National Climate Assessment, a landmark scientific report by U.S. scientists documents that climate change is already buffeting much of the United States

Climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present.

  • Brad Plumer breaks it down in nine maps

Most of the U.S. getting hotter

  • Juliet Eilperin reports on this being Obama’s most important legacy effort
  • Obama takes his climate show on the road to change the narrative on climate change
  • Jon Huntsman reminds the GOP that they must address this issue and cannot deny its reality

Our approach as a party should be one of neither denial nor extremism. Science must guide sensible policy discussions that will lead to well-informed choices, which may mean considering unexpected alternatives. We aren’t inspiring much confidence, especially among millennials, who at least want an intelligent conversation on the subject.

  • Divestment campaign convinces Stanford to purge its $18 billion portfolio of coal
    • NPR story downplays significance for coal sector but with coal already in trouble in the United States, coal’s future in the U.S. may be less bright than its international status
  •  Supreme Court upholds EPA ability to regulate cross-border pollution, namely coal emissions

The Major Economies and Climate Change 

My year-long course on the Major Economies and Climate Change concluded. Five sector papers on forests, transport, energy production, short-lived forcers, and efficiency are up on the website. Country papers are forthcoming. Videos and slides from our recent presentations are loaded . Hundreds of topical blog entries are posted about different topics and countries.

Climate is a Co-Benefit. One key takeaway: China and India more likely to act because of concerns about energy security and pollution. Action to address climate change could be a co-benefit of policies enacted to address these concerns.

We are sunk unless China can deal with coal. China is now dwarfing all other emitters and with 70% of its energy coming from coal, dealing with China’s coal emissions is central to minimizing the worst consequences of climate change. China has to be able to deal with coal through more efficiency,  fuel switching to gas, renewables, and nuclear, and coming up with a breakthrough on carbon capture.

Here is my overview of the project.