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Politics

UN report highlights growing climate crisis ahead of COP28

Ahead of the COP28 summit, a new UN report reveals alarming increases in greenhouse gas emissions, underscoring the urgency for decisive climate action.

-- Matt Simon reports forWired.

In short:

  • The title of the UN Environment Programme succinctly captures the shortcomings of global climate action: “Broken Record—Temperatures Hit New Highs, Yet World Fails to Cut Emissions (Again).”
  • The gap is widening between current emissions and Paris Agreement targets.
  • The report highlights record temperatures and slow progress in renewable energy adoption.

Key quote:

"We've taken stock, we know what the problems are. But the question is, what will leaders at COP28 agree to do about it?"

— Taryn Fransen, report co-author.

Why this matters:

The UN report sheds light on the critical state of our climate and argues for rapid and substantial policy changes to mitigate global warming. Arguments about adverse economic impacts of climate action often weaken political will, yet the economic consequences of unmitigated climate change are enormous, from public health to agriculture to public infrastructure.

What do you think are effective arguments for building political will to accelerate emissions reductions and transform the energy sector?

AI-based tools helped produce this text, with human oversight and editing.

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Public input sought on Dakota Access pipeline's environmental impacts

The Army Corps of Engineers is inviting public comments on the Dakota Access pipeline's environmental impact, years after its contentious approval.

-- Anita Hofschneider reports forGrist.

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A significant oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, linked to a pipeline near the Louisiana coast, is raising serious environmental concerns.

-- Li Cohen reports for CBS News.

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Texas lawmakers raised pollution fines for the first time in more than a decade. But regulatory concerns remain

Reporting for Public Health Watch, David Leffler writes that Texas state lawmakers have voted to increase the maximum daily pollution violation fines for the first time since 2011. But the legislation also gives environmental regulators more power to avoid investigating citizen pollution complaints.

In a nutshell:

The pollution penalties, which are determined by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), can now be as high as $40,000 per day for some offenses — up from the previous maximum of $25,000 per day. But environmental justice advocates denounced a related bill passed by the legislature making it easier to ignore citizen complaints about pollution and other environmental problems. The latter bill allows the TCEQ leeway to avoid investigating environmental complaints without a "reasonable probability" that the commission can substantiate them. The agency can also decline to act if it determines that citizens’ concerns repeats complaints about a site that TCEQ investigated within the previous 12 months and concluded were unsubstantiated.

Key quote:

“This could cast a shadow over the things we’ve accomplished this session for Texans and our environment,” said state Rep. Penny Morales Shaw, a Houston Democrat who sponsored the bill to increase pollution fines, in response to the bill weakening the TCEQ's investigation of environmental complaints.

Big picture:

Previous investigations by Public Health Watch have found that the TCEQ repeatedly ignores Clean Air Act violations by the oil, gas and chemical industries and rarely assesses penalties. That's despite the fact that some of the communities most heavily burdened by pollution experience frequent illegal releases of toxic substances from the fossil fuel and petrochemical industries and suffer disproportionate health problems in comparison with whiter, more affluent areas.

It's worth noting that the oil, gas and petrochemical industries contribute significantly to the Texas economy and are major political donors in the state.

Read the full story by Public Health Watchhere.

For more on how the petrochemical industry buildout is affecting public health, follow EHN.org's ongoing coverage from western Pennsylvania and the Gulf Coast.


Newsletter

Breweries are starting to capture carbon — from beer

Breweries are capturing carbon - from beer

Washington Post reporter Charlie Scudder writes about craft brewers who are using techniques developed by NASA to capture naturally produced CO2 and dissolve the molecules into their ales and beers.

In a nutshell:

New technology, developed by NASA and implemented by companies like Earthly Labs, captures CO2 from fermentation tanks, purifies it, and stores it for use in carbonating beer. By reusing the naturally produced CO2, breweries can cut down on their CO2 purchasing and improve the flavor profile of their beer. While the environmental impact of the technology may be small, it offers financial savings and contributes to sustainability efforts in the brewing industry.

Key quote:

“It’s good to get our fingers out of the petroleum industry any way we can,” brewery owner Brad Farbstein says.

Big picture:

By embracing such innovations, breweries can set an example for other sectors, highlighting the importance of finding practical solutions to minimize environmental impact. As more breweries implement these technologies, the collective effort can contribute to the larger goal of mitigating climate change and promoting sustainability in the brewing industry.

Read the full Washington Post story here.

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