Eliminating Fossil Fuels Centerstage at the UN Climate Ambition Summit

On the fifth anniversary of the historic COP21 meeting world leaders came together to discuss the the goals laid out in the Paris Agreement. The agenda for the Climate Ambition Summit included finalizing the 300 page draft known as the Paris rulebook which defines how countries tally and report their emissions reduction efforts.  Many of the leaders who came together for this virtual event acknowledged the need to increase renewables and end fossil fuels to keep temperatures from surpassing the upper threshold limit (1.5-2.0 degrees Celsius above preindustrial norms).  Just ahead of the UN Summit more than 100 countries (responsible for two-thirds...

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University Installs Innovative Water Battery to Harness Solar Power

Batteries are a critical part of effectively harnessing the power of renewable energy and one university has installed a giant water battery that will cut costs by 100 million over the next quarter century.  The University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia is using a three story high water battery along with 6,000 solar panels they have installed on campus roofs and parking lots. The battery acts like a huge thermal energy storage tank, solar panels cool water and then it is used in campus' air conditioning system. The project will reduce dependence on the grid by 42 percent...

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Abandoned Oil Wells Leaking Methane and other Contaminants

Methane may be less visible than oil spills but it is another serious corollary of fossil fuel extraction. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. According to a 2020 special report by Reuters, millions of abandoned wells are leaking methane. This report indicates that it is difficult if not impossible to hold companies accountable after they fold or sell a well. Across the U.S. the number of abandoned wells has increased by more than 12 percent since 2008 according to the EPA. The spate of fossil fuel industry bankruptcies we are seeing in 2020 is increasing...

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Oil Spills Illustrate the Dangers of Fossil Fuels

Oil spills are inevitable, they are difficult to clean-up and they can have devastating effects on local ecosystems. Here are few examples of oil spills that illustrate the dangers of fossil fuels. The fossil fuel industry is driving feedback loops that include both melting permafrost and sea-level rise.  It is not hyperbole to say that the fossil fuel industry is pushing us towards tipping points that could cause the collapse of civilization. One of the most devastating oil spills in recent memory took place in the Russian Arctic at the end of May.  Melting permafrost is but one of the...

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The Fossil Fuel Industry is Financing the Militarization of Police

A recent report has revealed the fossil fuel industries, utilities and banks have extensive ties to police groups. Police organizations in big cities like Seattle, Chicago, Washington, New Orleans and Salt Lake City have all received funding from oil giants including Chevron, Marathon and Shell. Funds are diverted to and through these groups without public input or oversight. Some of this money is used to pay for training, weapons, equipment, and surveillance technology.  Fossil fuel companies even have senior staff serving as directors of some police foundations. The information is from a report by the Public Accountability Initiative, a nonprofit...

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The Fossil Fuel Industry’s Environmental Racism and Funding of Racist Police

As revealed in a July 27th report, fossil fuel companies are guilty of environmental racism and they also support racist cops who terrorize the communities they are supposed to be policing. The fight against racism is intimately connected to the fight for environmental justice. It is no secret that people of color are far more likely to be exposed to dirty air and polluted water and they are also much more likely to to be the victims of police brutality. "This symbiotic relationship between the fossil fuel industry and police often means that the companies that are polluting Black and...

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Celebrating the Achievements of Wind Power on Global Wind Day

June 15th is Global Wind Day, an opportunity to explore the power of wind energy to help reshape our energy systems, decarbonise our economies and boost jobs and growth. Wind is key to our energy mix because it reduces fossil fuel use which combats climate change and contributes to cleaner air. There is now more than 591GW of wind power capacity installed globally in 91 countries, with continued growth predicted. According to a report by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) the U.S. added 7,588 megawatts (MW) of new wind power capacity in 2018 which is 21 percent of...

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Largest Ever Arctic Oil Spill and Climate Feedback Loops

The largest ever Arctic oil spill has drawn attention to warming related feedback loops. The recent Siberian oil spill was caused by thawing permafrost which caused ground subsidence under a storage tank.  This is a pervasive problem in Russia as 65 percent of the country is covered by permafrost. Fires and melting sea ice are two additional feedback loops that exacerbate Arctic warming. The May, 29, 2020 spill near the Siberian city of Norilsk in the Arctic Circle leaked 21,000 tons of diesel oil into the Ambarnaya river and turned the water blood red. Within days the leaked oil drifted...

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How the Coronavirus Helps Renewable Energy and Hurts Fossil Fuels

Covid-19 is helping to drive a seismic shift in energy that will accelerate the rise of renewable energy and expedite the demise of dirty energy.  Replacing fossil fuels with clean energy is an absolutely essential part of keeping temperatures within acceptable limits. A report commissioned by the Guardian found that replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy could curb the rise in global temperatures and reduce CO2 emissions as much as 70 percent by 2050. Although it may be hard to see from where we are today, there is a hopeful upside to this deadly virus. There is little doubt that...

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COVID-19 is Driving Down Emissions and Buoying Hope for Climate Action

The coronavirus will result in one of the largest declines in greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) in history.  This is the biggest emission reduction in more than seventy years.  In a mere matter of weeks COVID-19 has done what we have been trying to do for decades. This modern day plague has also dealt a significant blow to the fossil fuel industry and thousands of extraction and production companies are expected to become insolvent due to the oil crash of 2020. Any decrement in fossil fuel infrastructure increases the likelihood that we can keep temperatures below critical thresholds.According to data commissioned...

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