Adam McGibbon, The Guardian, Nov 21, 2016

There’s no point hiding from it – Donald Trump’s election should give us all concern for our future and the future of our children.

The chances of successfully mitigating climate change and holding global temperature increases to below a manageable 1.5 degree rise has nosedived. Trump, a man who believes that climate change is a “hoax”, wants to pull the US out of the Paris climate agreement. Even if that ends up taking time, he can decimate US federal agencies engaged in efforts to move to a greener society. He will probably cancel Obama’s Clean Power Plan, and slash federal funding for renewable energy.

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alan-in-socan-1

Yes, indeed!  From the perspective of social and environmental justice, this has been a bad month so far. Like many of you reading this, I went to bed on the morning of the 9th thinking this was a different country than I imagined it was when I woke up election morning, the day before. But, it is what it is, and we have to move forward; the problems confronting our children and grandchildren, not to mention all life on our fragile planet have not gone away.

Over the days and weeks following the election, I have participated in many teleconferences, webinars, meetings, and panel discussion addressing the huge question: ‘Where Do We Go From here?’ I don’t pretend to have all (or any of) the answers, but here are some thoughts.

The Trump and Congressional Agenda:

Back in 2009, on the eve of the Copenhagen Climate Summit, Donald Trump signed on to an open letter published in the New York Times that read, in part: “As Business Leaders, we are optimistic that President Obama is attending Copenhagen with emissions targets…We urge you, our government, to strengthen and pass United States legislation and lead the world by example. We support your effort to ensure meaningful and effective measures to control climate change, an immediate challenge facing the United States and the world today….If we fail to act now, it is scientifically irrefutable that there will be catastrophic and irreversible consequences for humanity and our planet.”

At that time, then, Trump acknowledged the imperative of addressing climate change. Regrettably, his campaign told a different story.  He repeatedly called global warming a hoax (manufactured by the Chinese), has now put a climate science denier in charge of his EPA transition team, and has vowed to: kill the Paris climate deal; end all efforts to help other countries deal with climate change; stop domestic climate action; reinvigorate coal; and zero out all research into climate science and clean energy.

Maybe we can remind him and his followers of that sane 2009 position, and urge him to recapture that concern and turn it into action.

Climate Action:

Fortunately, during the recent Conference of the Parties (COP 22) in Marrakech, the signatories of the Paris Agreement agreed that they would continue with their actions, even absent he U.S. Additionally, former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who is also a current presidential candidate in the center-right Republican Party (formerly the Union for a Popular Movement) suggested that France impose a 1-3 percent carbon tax on goods imported from the U.S. if Trump keeps his promise to reject the Paris Agreement.  It is always possible that other nations party to the Paris Agreement will follow suite.

While the terms of the Agreement mean it takes four years for a signatory actually to withdraw, if Trump and Congress choose simply not to abide by the terms already agreed, the effect is obviously immediate withdrawal. However, maybe in the interim, signatory nations will follow the Sarkozy lead and impose a similar carbon tax on U.S. imports. If this happens, the U. S. would clearly be smarter to impose and collect such a fee ourselves.  But, that only makes sense!

Be that as it may, we still have to decide our best route forward.  I think one of the critical messages coming from the election is that, while continuing to encourage federal action, we need to refocus on local, regional, and state action recognizing that federal action is unlikely in the near future.  This means not only promoting understanding of the climate issue (i.e. education), but getting involved in the development of solutions.

The Social Justice Angle:

Another profound message that I took away from the sessions in which I participated is the need to reach out to members of vulnerable communities who are personally and directly threatened by the result of this election – not just threatened by government action, but also by the promotion of a sub-culture that has legitimized, to some extent at least, racism, sexism,  general xenophobia, and persecution of the LGBTQ community.   Even here in Southern Oregon, we are hearing about kids in school being subject to heinous acts of bullying and taunting.  There are those amongst us who feel, and indeed are, personally endangered.  A 350.org panel discussion including representatives from the Black, Hispanic, Muslim and Inter-racial Millennial communities made it very clear that those of us fortunate enough not to be counted within these vulnerable communities need to be ready to support our threatened brothers and sisters whenever and wherever they need us.

Now What?

Those of us who understand the issues are needed!  The call is loud and clear; in the arenas of social and environmental justice, we cannot withdraw, tempting as it might be; we cannot abdicate our moral responsibility and escape to Canada (or wherever seems better).  We must stay and rededicate ourselves to environmental and social justice – for ourselves, for our friends, and for future generations.

The treatment of those protesting the North Dakota Access Pipeline in the name of justice – in our names – may be a harbinger of what is to come as those peacefully protesting insane fossil fuel projects are treated as terrorists and – in this case – doused with water in below-freezing conditions.  If sanoty does not prevail at the federal level and in the states, we will undoubtedly be called upon in the coming months to support such actions in every way we can.

Finally, let’s not forget that when the votes are fnally all counted, Hillary Clinton will probably have garnered some 2 to 2.5 million votes more than Donald Trump.  This means, even if the Trump voters were supporting all that Trump represented himself as in the campaign, that mix of views is supported by a minority of voters.  If this happens, she will have won by more than anyone else who ever also lost the Electoral College.

Thanks for reading,

Alan

Lauren McCauley, Common Dreams, Nov 20, 2016

Underscoring the “climate pariah” that the U.S. is expected to become under a President-elect Donald Trump, world leaders concluded the United Nations climate talks on Friday by re-committing to the goals of the Paris accord and vowing to take swift action to reduce global emissions.

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Jack Moran, Eugene Register Guard Nov 10, 2016

U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken on Thursday rejected requests from the federal government and trade groups representing many of the world’s largest energy companies to dismiss a climate change lawsuit brought by a group of youth plaintiffs and a leading climate scientist.

“This is no ordinary lawsuit,” Aiken wrote in a strongly worded, 54-page opinion and order that explains her ruling, which opens a pathway for the case to potentially proceed to trial.

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ams-kathy-kathy-studentsOne of SOCAN’s prime missions is to provide educational programs for the local Southern Oregon community.  This includes community groups and local schools.  During the last week of October and the first week of November the Climate in the Classroom team visited Ashland Middle School (October 26 and 27) where interactive presentations on the basic science of global warming and local impacts were given in 15 classes with cooperating teachers Kathy Nguyen, Daniel Otte, and Jennifer Craugh.  Then, (November 1st) similar presentations were given at Ruch Community School in the classes of Jennifer Drane and Ryan King.  These Ruch presentations also engaged the students in group discussion of what each of them can do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions personally in the areas of Energy, Transportation, or Materials Consumption.  The SOCAN team will be returning to Ruch Community School on January 3rd for a follow-up session focusing on the personal challenge each student was tasked to undertake as they individually try to reduce their emissions contributions.  The January session will also take discussions to the global level and consider the endangered species that each student will have been exploring.

As Sustainable Northwest’s Andrew Spaeth writes, poor planning and development pressures are increasing the risk of wildfire to human populations and causing dramatic increases in the cost of fire suppression.

Forests are critical in our efforts to stem the effects of climate change.

Yet, in the Pacific Northwest, uncharacteristic megafires are emitting large amounts of greenhouse gasses. In 2015, wildfires were the second largest single source of carbon dioxide emissions in Washington State, only behind the transportation sector.

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The major fossil fuel producers bear a particular responsibility for climate change.

Not only do their products cause a buildup of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere, but many of these companies have also worked systematically to block laws or regulations that would reduce emissions of heat-trapping gases, in some cases by spreading disinformation about climate science (Mulvey et al. 2015). Furthermore, these companies continue to encourage, plan for, and invest in expanded and unabated fossil fuel use—despite fully understanding the adverse climate impacts of their products and having the technical and financial capacity to facilitate the transition to low-carbon energy (Frumhoff, Heede, and Oreskes 2015).

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Lorraine Chow, EcoWatch October 12, 2016

The race to build the world’s largest solar power plant is heating up. California-based energy company SolarReserve announced plans for a massive concentrated solar power (CSP) plant in Nevada that claims to be the largest of its kind once built.

SolarReserve CEO Kevin Smith told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that the $5 billion endeavor would generate between 1,500 and 2,000 megawatts of power, enough to power about 1 million homes. That amount of power is as much as a nuclear power plant, or the 2,000-megawatt Hoover Dam and far bigger than any other existing solar facility on Earth, the Review-Journal pointed out.

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Climate Nexus, Oct 13th 2016

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) did not properly account for climate change in its environmental impact assessment of a $1.4 billion natural gas pipeline, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

In April, FERC found that the 160-mile Leach Xpress pipeline would have a limited impact on the environment, but the EPA argues potential emissions from burning the natural gas transported by the pipeline need to be factored in.

The EPA’s statement comes just a few months after the Obama administration called on federal agencies to consider the climate impacts of their projects and at a time of increasing pipeline protests due to environmental justice and climate impacts.

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Editor’s Note:  This is exactly the point SOCAN made in our submission written  in response to the FERC Draft Environmental Impact Statement in the Jordan Cove / Pacific Connector Project.  It’s great that, at last, the EPA has caught up with SOCAN.  May they do so again and repeatedly.

Union of Concerned Scientists: October 2016

An in-depth analysis of eight leading fossil fuel companies finds that none of them has made a clean break from disinformation on climate science and policy.

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