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Cues from Our Climate and Other Hot Pubs

September 15, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Member Reports:

Insurer Responses to Climate Risk: This month, Ceres released “Climate Risk Disclosure By Insurers: Evaluating Insurer Responses to the NAIC Climate Disclosure Survey.” The report examines public disclosure filings from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) to assess US insurer consideration of climate change as a key risk factor to their business and how that consideration affects their decision making. Based on the NAIC responses, which targeted six states, Ceres’ analysis found that there does exist a “broad consensus among insurers that climate change will have an effect on extreme weather events, [with] more than three-quarters of insurers [citing] perils that may be affected by climate change. Despite this recognition, out of 88 companies surveyed, “only 11 insurers reported having formal climate change policies, and more than 60 percent of the respondents reported having no dedicated management approach for assessing climate risk.” Of 18 property and casualty companies surveyed, none had “formal climate change policies or explicit board or executive oversight of this issue.”

Climate Financing and Gender Equality: Oxfam America, along with Gender Action and the Women’s Environment and Development Organization released a research report this month examining practices that would ensure equal and effective distribution of climate change financing for the world’s most vulnerable populations. “Governing Climate Funds: What Will Work for Women?” urges that if climate funds are to respond effectively, “they must incorporate gender throughout project planning, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation.” The study looks at four funds, two climate and two non-climate funds, to find useful strategies for gender integration in global finance mechanisms. Among several recommendations made in the report, it finds that “climate funds should [not only] allow recipient countries to access finance directly…but should also strengthen mandatory gender project review criteria and gender evaluation requirements [as well as] allow and encourage women’s groups to apply for finance directly when national implementing agencies are not meeting their needs.”

Exposing Keystone XL: This month OilChange International released “Exposing Energy Security: Keystone XL Exposed.” The briefing targets claims made by major industry that the Keystone pipeline is necessary to ensure America’s energy security and will work to reduce the country’s dependence on foreign oil, scrutinizing the global oil market and the oil companies that stand to profit from the pipeline. Based on facts uncovered in the report, OilChange posits that Keystone XL “will feed the growing trend of exporting refined products out of the United States, thereby doing nothing to enhance energy security or to stabilize oil prices or gasoline prices at the pump.” It uncovers a business model put forth by Valero that “seeks to export products made with imported oil while further importing gasoline from a third country.”

Nonmember Reports:

Extreme Weather: This month Climate Communications released “Current Extreme Weather and Climate Change,” summarizing the latest research on the connection between climate change and extreme weather. The report, reviewed by several leading climatologists, found that extreme weather events, such as heat waves, droughts, flooding, and hurricanes, are happening more frequently, and that the ties to human-induced climate change are clear. In-depth analyses have demonstrated that natural climate variability cannot solely explain the long-term trends of changing weather extremes, especially in terms of increased heat waves. The research indicates that “the increased in hot weather is a direct result of climate change, and human influence is estimated to have more than doubled the likelihood of the warming trends experienced recently in virtually every region of the globe.”

The Facts on Keystone’s Job Potential: The Cornell Global Labor Institute recently released its analysis of the job impacts expected from construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. It finds that estimations of the pipeline’s job-creating potential made by the American Petroleum Institute are unreliable and “therefore unsuitable for public debate.” Citing previous and potential future oil spills, emissions levels, and air quality, the release states that the Keystone project has “minimal job creation potential, but maximum potential in terms of the environmental damage it could cause.” The findings urge that “the U.S. needs a real jobs program [and] Keystone XL is not it.” Further information about the Cornell findings regarding the pipeline jobs can be found on the USCAN Tar Sands webpage.

GHG Emissions from Natural Gas Extraction: A study released by the Cornell Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology earlier this year examined the GHG emissions released during high-volume hydraulic shale fracturing to obtain natural gas. The research found that methane emissions during this process are “at least 30% more than and perhaps more than twice as great as those from conventional gas.”  The majority of the GHG footprint for shale comes from direct CO2 emissions during consumption, but also from methane emissions that are not collected and piped away during natural gas extraction processes. According to the study, when compared to coal, the “footprint of shale gas is at least 20% greater and perhaps more than twice as great on the 20-year horizon.”

Natural Gas vs. Coal: A study released last month by the National Center for Atmospheric Research, “Coal to Gas: The Influence of Methane Leakage” found that although the burning of natural gas emits significantly less carbon dioxide than coal, a greater reliance on it would not significantly slow down climate change. Research by Tom Wigley, a senior research associate at NCAR found that “when gas replaces coal there is additional warming out to [the year] 2050,” assuming methane leakage during natural gas extraction is kept at 0%, “and out to [the year] 2,140 if the leakage rate is as high as 10%.” The study finds that fracking specifically is associated with an increase in methane leakage compared to other means of gas production, and that “the direct effects on global-mean temperature of differential gas leakage between coal and gas production are very small.”

Surveys and Polls:

Political Party and Climate Belief: The Yale Project on Climate Change Communications and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communications released a report detailing the results from their most recent national survey of the American public. “Politics & Global Warming: Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and the Tea Party” examines responses by members of each political party related to the issue of global warming. The results indicated that 78% of Democrats, 71% of Independents, and 53% of Republicans believe that global warming is happening, compared with only 34% of Tea Party members. 53% of Tea Party members, in fact, responded that they believe global warming is not happening. The majorities of all four parties support expanding offshore drilling for oil and natural gas off the U.S. coast, “with 46% of Republicans and 58% of Tea Party members strongly supportive.”

EPA Sentiments: A September national Bloomberg poll, based on interviews with 997 U.S. adults 18 and older found that sixty-six percent of respondents reported being “less likely to vote for someone who wants to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency, versus 19 percent who said the opposite.” For more survey results regarding respondents feelings on the Presidential campaign and current political affairs, view the Bloomberg polling data.

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