While many people are traveling to Warsaw this week to participate in the international climate negotiations (COP 19), the city is also hosting another global conference: the International Coal and Climate Summit. It’s a troubling juxtaposition—coal contributes to 43 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, making it a major driver of climate change. In fact, a new statement released by leading scientists suggests that nearly three-quarters of fossil fuel reserves—especially coal—must remain unused if the world is to limit temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius. In other words, limiting sea level rise, extreme weather events, heat waves, and other climate impacts requires staying within world’s “carbon budget”—which doesn’t include unabated coal use.
After winning Germany’s federal elections on September 22nd, Chancellor Angela Merkel is in the middle of difficult coalition talks to form a new government. Because Merkel’s party, the Christian Democrats, did not win an absolute majority in parliament, it must find a new coalition partner. The party has begun negotiations with Social Democrats to form a grand coalition.
Like all U.S. states, Illinois will need to reduce its power sector carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in order to alleviate climate change impacts and comply with future EPA standards. The good news is that the state has already taken steps to reduce its emissions, including saving energy and increasing its use of renewable energy sources. And, Illinois has the potential to go even further. New WRI analysis finds that Illinois can reduce its CO2 emissions 35 percent below 2011 levels by 2020 just by complying with current policies and taking advantage of existing infrastructure. Achieving these reductions will allow Illinois to meet or exceed moderately ambitious EPA power plant emissions standards, which are due to be finalized in 2015.
Energy and consulting firm Wood Mackenzie, supported by data and analysis from WRI’s Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas, surveyed water risks among the world’s top energy-producing regions. They found that three energy sectors face particularly high water risks: shale gas in the United States, coal production and coal-fired power in China, and crude oil in the Middle East.
Record-setting levels of smog this week shut down Harbin, a city of 11 million people in northeast China. Officials blamed increased coal consumption during the first days of winter heating, underscoring the urgency of the China State Council’s recently announced initiative to address persistent smog in major cities.
But while the Air Pollution Control Action Plan has ambitious goals—cutting air particulates and coal consumption—it may create unintended problems for the country’s water supply.
Pennsylvania is generating more electricity than it has in the past, but the good news is that it’s doing so while emitting less carbon dioxide pollution. In fact, new WRI analysis finds that Pennsylvania can reduce its CO2 emissions 21 percent below 2011 levels by 2020 just by complying with current policies and taking advantage of existing infrastructure. Achieving these reductions will allow Pennsylvania to meet moderately ambitious EPA power plant emissions standards, which are due to be finalized in 2015.
President Obama announced the first-ever National Climate Plan for the United States in June 2013. Under the plan, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will set carbon pollution standards for power plants. In September 2013, EPA introduced emissions standards for new power plants and...