January 2019


EDITOR’S NOTE: Welcome to the latest edition of NACSAA News, a monthly compilation of CSA-related news. “NACSAA in Action” features the latest on the Alliance activities; “Featured News” offers some of the biggest CSA-related stories of the past month; “Other News We Are Reading” is a listing of news stories from other sources we think you will find of interest; and “Partner News and Events.” We hope this newsletter will serve to keep you, your members and other constituencies fully engaged in the growing development of climate-smart agriculture policy, programs and practices. Your feedback is welcome and appreciated. To subscribe, email info@SfLDialogue.net.

NACSAA in Action

NACSAA Leaders Emphasize Ag Role at Global Climate Negotiations


NACSAA leaders attending global climate talks in Katowice, Poland, last month reported success in representing and advocating for climate smart agriculture principles and recommendations, joining others in successfully keeping on track the development of the Koronivia Joint Work Program on Agriculture.


The work program was adopted at COP23 in Bonn last year to develop and implement new strategies for adaptation and mitigation within the agriculture sector that will help both reduce emissions and build its resilience to the effects of climate change.


On hand in Poland for the 24th Conference of Parties (COP24) staged by the UN Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC) were several NACSAA members, including alliance Chairman Fred Yoder; Frank Annau, director of science and environmental policy for the Canadian Federation of Agriculture;  Clyde Graham, executive vice president at Fertilizer Canada; A.G. Kawamura, who is also co-chair of Solutions from the Land (SfL), NACSAA’s parent platform; Chris Meyer, a senior manager at EDF (Environmental Defense Fund); David Wei from BRS (Business for Social Responsibility) and SfL President Ernie Shea.


They carried with them the message that any climate strategy developed must acknowledge the critically important role agricultural landscapes through climate smart agriculture (CSA) can play in sustaining productivity, enhancing climate resilience, and contributing to the local and global goals for sustainability.


The NACSAA members who attended the conference said the session offered both challenges and opportunities for North American agriculture. They noted that agricultural stakeholders appeared to be underrepresented at the conference, while several other competing platforms were present in Katowice to advance narratives around the concept of a “broken” food system. They claimed the system can only be “fixed” by substituting plant-based foodstuffs for meat and dairy and changing consumer behavior/consumption via policies that disadvantage animal agriculture.


NACSAA was one of only a few stakeholders representing and advocating the needs and priorities of agriculture in the developed world. Alliance representatives joined other advocates in convincing delegates to turn back efforts to modify the approved roadmap – the Koronivia Agriculture Work Program – and elected to stay the course with a series of internal workshops to inform decision-making.


Although bureaucratic, the COP negotiations are “norm setting” and provide an opportunity to empower and embrace climate smart agriculture policies, programs and strategies, alliance members agreed. The negotiations, they noted, position agriculture as a primary solution to achieve not only climate goals, but the broader range of UN sustainable development goals (SDG) as well.


In their post-conference assessment, the NACSAA members also agreed that agriculture offers enough measurable, ambitious targets and technological innovations that goals consistent with sustainability, economic realities and the voices of farmers will create a compelling narrative. However, they said agriculture stakeholders must help develop that narrative.


NACSAA members said farmers and others with concrete experience speaking to the assembled delegates and advocating for their inclusion in the planning process were positively received.


They noted that a number of parties, including UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa, expressed hope that the conference would serve as a platform to connect policymakers with on-the-ground solutions. Furthermore, partnerships with the global landscapes and forest protection interests found common cause with agriculture. It was agreed that, in practice, applied agroecology and climate smart agriculture share many goals and techniques – an overlap documented by land grant universities and others.


In a post-conference op-ed published by Agri-Pulse Dec. 20, Kawamura said that he was concerned over the lack to date of a unified response from agriculture to criticisms and that there was a need for the sector to emphasize its strengths.


“If we hope to embrace strategies for global and national food security, the first priority is to protect the capacity to produce enough food for the world,” said Kawamura, a produce grower and shipper, and former secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture.


He noted that the global population is projected to increase 26 percent rise by the year 2050 – from 7.7 billion people to 9.7 billion.


“Even in the face of that massive increase, the current production of grains for livestock and for biofuel feedstocks offers a clear demonstration of the ample capacity to meet both of these demands from the global populations that would eat or use the derivative products – meat and ethanol,” he wrote.


“In the simplest of terms,” Kawamura wrote, “we should understand that maintaining and expanding the productive capacity of agriculture should be our highest priority. It should not be shutting down agricultural systems or stifling ag product use, as some interests in Poland advocated.”


Kawamura also said the agriculture sector needs the help, support and collaboration of all stakeholders. He said all those who work the land and those who help producers grow and sell their goods should join the efforts of NACSAA and others who focus on climate smart agriculture (CSA) practices.


“It is critical for all diverse stakeholders in the agriculture sector take an active role in the development of policy that aims to counter a changing climate,” he wrote.


Kawamura said NACSAA, other regional alliances and the Global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture (GACSA) are critically important in helping to educate, equip and mobilize all the stakeholders in their pursuit of transformative change and adoption of climate smart practices and thinking.


NACSAA members left Katowice saying they now have a deepened and strengthened working relationships with negotiators, having come away better informed about process and players. Shea said the COP24 experience has positioned NACSAA and Solutions from the Land as credible and important leaders in the global Climate Smart Agriculture arena


Efforts will now focus on work through NACSAA and GACSA to build and advance a farmer-driven action plan to address climate change.


Yoder Guests on Podcast to Explain Ag’s Role in Taking on Climate Change


NACSAA Chairman Fred Yoder is the featured guest on the Dec. 23rd podcast of “Bionic Planet – Navigating the New Reality.” Entitled “How World’s Farmers are Engaging the Global Climate Apparatus,” the podcast features an interview with Yoder during his participation in events at the 24th Conference of Parties (COP24) held in Katowice, Poland, by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.


In pro

moting the podcast, Bionic Planet says agriculture emits roughly 20 percent of all greenhouse gasses that contribute to climate change.


“But sustainable management of forests, farms, and fields can turn the world’s farms into massive carbon sinks that absorb greenhouse gasses by the gigaton. Yet farmers – as opposed to agriculture ministers – have been nearly invisible at year-end climate talks,” the podcast website states. “That changed this past year, thanks to a global farmer-led effort to promote climate-[smart] agriculture (CSA) and the emergence of the Koronivia [Joint Work on Agriculture], which creates a fast track for integrating agriculture into the Paris Climate Agreement.”


The podcast cites Yoder, an Ohio corn, soybean and wheat producer, for his work as a leading proponent of climate-smart agriculture within the Americas. He tells his podcast host how farmers moved from the fringes to the center of climate negotiations in just two short years.


Yoder cites the absence of farmers in previous global negotiations on agriculture as necessitating the formation of both the Global Climate Smart Agriculture Alliance and NACSAA. In addition to farm leaders from the United States, Canada and Mexico, the North American alliance includes in its membership representatives from academia, equipment manufacturers, NGOs (“at least those that understand agriculture”), seed companies and fertilizer companies, among others.


He cited the three pillars of CSA, including sustainable production; adaptation of operations to changing climate conditions, including building the resilience of soil to withstand dryer, wetter conditions; and mitigation of climate change through land management practices (e.g., cover crops) and products (e.g., ethanol, biodiesel) that reduce or avoid emissions.


Yoder makes the case that now agriculture has taken a seat at the negotiating table, all stakeholders must engage in the efforts being mounted by NACSAA and others to ensure solutions to climate problems that agriculture is facing are being met by those with first-hand experience of working the land.


To hear the podcast, which also features farm leaders from other countries, click HERE.


Webinar: Technical, Economic Viability of Woody Biomass for Bioenergy


With the right regulatory and financial signals, combined forestry and agricultural resources and wastes in the southeastern United States can sustainably contribute between 1.2 to 1.5 billion tons of biomass for bioenergy annually by 2040, participants in a Dec. 19 webinar learned.


Brent Bailey

Sponsored by the USDA Forest Service, Southern Region and hosted by the Southern Region Extension Forestry, the webinar also brought to light that the projected biomass production could drive $250 billion in economic impact and create 1.1 million jobs, with much of the benefits being realized in the Southeast.


Brent Bailey, project manager for Solutions from the Land (SfL), NACSAA’s parent platform, and Art Samberg, program manager with the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center at NC State University, were the two presenters in a webinar that aimed to educate listeners about overall southeastern biomass-to-bioenergy, issues as well as specific case technical and economic evaluations.


While the Southeast has solar, wind, hydro and geothermal resources, they are resources that are not consistent across the region, said Bailey, who is also state activities coordinator for 25x’25, SfL’s renewable energy advocacy platform. However, biomass – in many types and forms – is available across the region and can provide cost-competitive solutions for energy needs, he told the more than 70 webinar participants.


Bailey examined todays national energy production and consumption figures; looked at the technical, infrastructure, economic and policy challenges facing bioenergy growth; and assessed the wide range of sustainable biomass feedstocks available in the southeast.


Due to the lack of long-term policy support for bioenergy, distributed, small-scale bioenergy systems may be more desirable in terms of resource efficiency, impacts on ecosystems and financial risk.


Samberg shared the results of a study that evaluated the technical and economic viability of utilizing woody biomass to generate energy at 30 industrial and institutional sites in the Appalachian and Foothills region of North Carolina. In conducting the study, utility data from the sites were used to model the cost of using locally and/or regionally-sourced woody biomass to meet their thermal loads. For some facilities, biomass combined heat and power systems ability to provide both thermal and electric energy were evaluated. The cost of energy using biomass was compared to existing fuels used at each site.


The study found that every screening (30 site evaluations) showed a cost savings using biomass compared with traditional fossil fuels. However, project funding is a barrier to project implementation, even for those projects that scored high for economic viability.


The bioeconomy is playing an increasingly important role in the American economy and is an important emerging industry for rural communities, Bailey said. Through innovations in renewable energies and the emergence of a new generation of biobased products, the sectors that drive the biobased economy are providing job creation and economic growth. He said bioenergy presents a tremendous opportunity to help realize national energy and conservation goals.


(NACSAA members are invited to submit news items, press releases and other information they may want to share with Alliance members. Send your news to [email protected])



Featured News


Case Studies Highlight UN FAO Climate Smart Agriculture Report


A publication issued by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) aims to provide the best FAO-led examples of how Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) is not a “one-size-fits-all” approach that can be universally applied but, rather, involves different elements embedded in local contexts.


Case studies detailed in the publication show how the management of farms, crops, livestock and aquaculture can balance short- and long-term food security needs with priorities for the farmer/ producer, as well as build adaption to climate change and contribute to mitigating GHG.


By definition, CSA pursues three goals: to sustainably increase agricultural productivity and improve farmers’ incomes; to build farmers’ resilience to climate change and help them find ways to adapt; and to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.


Climate-Smart Agriculture: Case Studies 2018,” underscores the clear need to make decisions with the climate in mind, FAO officials say.


“Agriculture is one of the largest greenhouse gas emitters, but it is also one of the climate’s greatest allies,” says Rima Al-Azar, FAO Global Climate Governance coordinator and Climate Smart Agriculture team leader. “The agriculture sector can play a large role in mitigation by reducing emissions and avoiding further loss of carbon stored in forests and soil. Keeping soils and forests healthy also helps fight climate change as both of these act as ‘sinks’ that sequester carbon.


“Lastly,” Al-Azar said, “reducing food loss and waste and advocating for better food consumption patterns are other important efforts within agriculture’s sphere of influence.”


Officials say more than three-quarters of the world’s poor live in rural areas and many of them depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. CSA, which is an approach that helps to transform and reorient agricultural systems to ensure food security and support rural development in a changing climate, focuses on the farmer, fisher or herder.


“It is these rural people, particularly in developing countries, who are hit the hardest by climate change,” Al-Azar said. “Our agricultural and food systems are bearing the brunt of higher temperatures, changes in precipitation patterns, rising sea levels and more frequent extreme weather events. “


The five case studies detailed in the publication demonstrate successful FAO initiatives to benefit farming communities and work towards one of the UN’s global sustainable development goalscombatting climate change and its impacts.


Climate work cited in the case studies include the “re-greening” of the Sahel region of Africa, the stemming of flooding in Bangladesh, efforts to promote greater indigenous pig production in the western Balkans, climate-smart mussel farming in Chile, and an FAO initiative to bring together government efforts in the Near East and North Africa (NENA) to end severe shortages of water.


The outcomes of these climate-smart projects have created a better understanding of the potential accelerators and barriers for the adoption of this type of agriculture, the FAO says.


To read the complete report, click HERE.



World Bank Report Offers Multi-Nation Assessment of CSA


The World Bank has issued a report its authors say is the first in a

Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) Country Profile Series aimed at assessing climate change challenges and solutions in the agricultural sector.


The report – Bringing the Concept of Climate-Smart Agriculture to Life – introduces the first analysis of a new dataset drawn from the profiles of more than 30 countries across Africa, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), aggregating bottom-up results from individual expert assessments of CSA technologies.


The report offers the most complete overview to date of technologies considered climate-smart around the world. The emerging insights shed light on technologies in different locations and farming systems, their strengths and weaknesses across different dimensions of climate-smartness, and their specific barriers to adoption.


The authors say the result is a more concrete and specific picture of CSA that could help demystify the concept, reveal synergies between the three CSA pillars (productivity, adaptation, and mitigation), and allow for more targeted technology deployment and scale-up.


“Climate change’s negative impacts on agriculture are already being felt around the world, in the form of more frequent extreme weather events that affect crops and livestock and disrupt food production,” the report says.


Noting agriculture’s contributions to climate change (estimated at between 19 and 29 percent of emissions), the report says CSA aims to better integrate agricultural development and climate-responsiveness.


CSA “is an integrated approach to managing landscapes -such as cropland, livestock, forests and fisheries – that aims to achieve increased and sustainable productivity, enhanced resilience and reduced emissions.”


Drawing on the country profiles, the report offers an overview of nearly 300 climate-smart production systems that are being used across different locations and farming systems. The publication also provides insights into where, how and what CSA technologies make the biggest difference, the factors that account for ‘climate-smartness’ and the biggest barriers to CSA adoption.


Principal findings of the report include:

  • Technologies considered ‘climate-smart’ vary across regions, are incredibly diverse and reflect the context-specificity of opportunities, constraints and vulnerabilities. There is considerable scope to tailor CSA to individual farmers’ needs.
  • While CSA is diverse, just five technology clusters – water management, crop tolerance to stress, intercropping, organic inputs and conservation agriculture – account for almost 50 percent of all CSA technologies identified by experts as climate-smart across the 33 countries covered by the climate-smart profiles.
  • Most technologies considered climate-smart demonstrate synergies between productivity, adaptation, and mitigation, revealing opportunities for co-benefits and potential “triple-wins.”
  • The lack of training and information was identified as the single largest barrier to CSA adoption across all regions. Investments in capacity building and knowledge dissemination for farmers, experts, and decision makers are critical for ensuring the widespread adoption of CSA. A weak enabling environment – including unfavorable policies, lack of access to input and output markets and inefficient risk management systems – as well as insufficient economic resources were identified as other barriers to CSA adoption.
  • There is no one-size fits-all CSA solution. CSA implementation is most effective when it goes beyond the farm plot level and is applied in an integrated way that takes into account competing sectoral priorities, the cumulative effect of combined CSA technologies and the potential for transformational change.

In addition to the World Bank, other organizations collaborating on the report include the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), and the UK Department for International Development (DFID).



2018 Farm Bill Offers Programs Important to Climate Smart Ag


President Trump signed into law last month a five-year farm bill that offers a wide number of programs and incentives that are important tools in the pursuit of climate smart agriculture, including a new initiative that will promote and document the benefits of farming practices that improve soil health.


Both houses of Congress passed the $867-billion measure, the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, by wide, bipartisan margins.


The bill lays out federal farm policy through 2023 and provides for an Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) that can be used to take advantage of land-based climate solutions offered by agriculture, keeping working landscapes vital while reducing carbon emissions.


The pilot EQIP program encourages farmers to implement and document the true greenhouse benefits of crop production, which can make a meaningful impact in the fight against climate change. The EQIP provision will incentivize farmers to adopt smart soil management practices that improve soil health to increase drought resiliency, improve nutrient utilization and enhance soil carbon sequestration.


Underlining the significance of this EQIP provision was its endorsement by a wide range of organizations, including NACSAA members the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE), Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). In addition to the program’s potential environmental benefits, advocates see it as offering an economic value which, if realized, will properly credit farmers for their ability to sequester carbon and participate in low carbon fuel markets.


The final bill dropped House efforts to gut longstanding Energy Title programs, continuing mandatory funding for a number of important programs to help diversify rural economies that have seen revenues fall for five years and promote alternatives to fossil-fuel-driven energy.


For example, the legislation continues significant mandatory funding ($50 million annually) for the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), which helps install renewable energy, energy efficiency and energy storage technologies on farms, ranches and in rural businesses. The Biomass Crop Assistance Program, which promotes the growth and harvesting of switchgrass and other feedstocks for cellulosic ethanol, was reauthorized, as was a program that can potentially grow the number of commercially viable bio-based alternatives to petroleum-based fuels, chemicals, plastics and other products.


The latter two programs, however, were provided with no mandatory funding and will be paid for at the discretion of budget writers in Congress.


The final bill also retains the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), which enables producers to better protect water resources and soil quality, while earning payments for cover crops, resource-conserving crop rotations, and management-intensive rotational grazing. The final farm legislation rejects a House attempt to kill the CSP and, instead, incorporates Senate language that improves it.



Investors Call on World Leaders to Address ‘Ambition Gap’


More than 400 global investors, with $32 trillion in assets-under-management, used the COP24 climate talks in Poland last month to call on governments around the world to step up action to address climate change.


The groups are behind the call-to-action as signatories of the 2018 Global Investor Statement to Governments on Climate Change, which represents the single largest policy intervention from investors on the issue.



The statement highlights three overarching priorities investors say global leaders must address: achieving the Paris Agreement’s goals; accelerating private sector investment into the low carbon transition and committing to improve climate-related financial reporting.


Investors signing the statement include some of the world’s largest pension funds, asset managers and insurance companies, alongside faith-based groups, state treasurers and comptrollers, impact investors and venture capital funds.


The statement asks governments to strengthen their Nationally Determined Contributions, specific targets set by nations in 2015 to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement and to enact policies to facilitate the world’s transition to a low-carbon economy.


Among specific policies, the investors request governments “phase out thermal coal power”, “put a meaningful price on carbon” and “phase out fossil fuel subsidies.”


Investors highlight the “ambition gap” the UN has determined exists between governments’ commitments and what is needed to deliver on the goals of the Paris Agreement – in limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius – and ensuring the necessary transition to a low-carbon economy.


They stress their “great concern” about the gap, noting consequences of an otherwise “unacceptably high temperature increase” and “substantial negative economic impacts.”


Without greater action, investment firm Schroders, which is a signatory to the statement, points to long-run temperature rises of around 4 degrees Celsius, with $23 trillion of associated global economic losses over the next 80 years – a permanent economic damage up to four times the scale of the impacts of the 2008 global financial crisis.


The signatories describe their own efforts to invest in climate solutions and low carbon assets, but add: “The global shift to clean energy is underway, but much more needs to be done by governments to accelerate the low carbon transition and to improve the resilience of our economy, society and the financial system to climate risks.”


The intervention comes as findings of a recent U.N. report show that nations must triple their efforts to meet their commitments under the Paris Agreement. Only weeks earlier, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 1.5°C Special Report showed that considerable additional emission reductions are achievable, delivering significant benefit to society and the climate.


The investors say the process for governments to increase ambition of their climate commitments is built into the design of the Paris Agreement, calling on nations to start the process this year.


For more information on the statement, click HERE.


Meteorological Study Links Weather Extremes to Climate Change


The U.S. Northern Plains and East Africa droughts of 2017, floods in South America, China and Bangladesh, and heatwaves in China and the Mediterranean were all made more likely by human-caused climate change, according to

new research recently published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS).


The seventh edition of the report, “Explaining Extreme Events in 2017 from a Climate Perspective,” also includes analyses of ocean heat events, such as intense marine heatwaves in the Tasman Sea off of Australia in 2017 and 2018 that were “virtually impossible” without human-caused climate change. Also included are analyses of Australian fires and Uruguayan flooding.


This is the second year that scientists have identified extreme weather events that they said could not have happened without warming of the climate through human-induced climate change.


“These attribution studies are telling us that a warming Earth is continuing to send us new and more extreme weather events every year,” said Jeff Rosenfeld, Editor in Chief of BAMS. “The message of this science is that our civilization is increasingly out of sync with our changing climate.”


The report presents 17 peer-reviewed analyses of extreme weather across six continents and two oceans during 2017. It features the research of 120 scientists from 10 countries looking at both historical observations and model simulations to determine whether and by how much climate change may have influenced particular extreme events.


BAMS Special Editor Martin Hoerling, a NOAA research meteorologist, said that while the events studied in this issue spanned six continents and a calendar year, what became clear is they are intimately connected.


“These studies confirm predictions of the 1990 First IPCC report, which foresaw that radical departures from 20th century weather and climate would be happening now,” Hoerling said. “Scientific evidence supports increasing confidence that human activity is driving a variety of extreme events now. These are having large economic impacts across the United States and around the world.”


Significant findings from this year’s report on 2017’s extreme weather can be found HERE.


The extreme weather events studied in the seven annual issues of the report were selected by researchers and do not represent a comprehensive analysis of events during that span. About 70 percent of the 146 research findings published in this series identified a substantial link between an extreme event and climate change; about 30 percent did not.


This year the report also goes beyond publishing attribution studies assessing the role of human- caused climate changes in extreme weather. The editors asked managers and planners in various sectors of society to reflect on the use of attribution science in preparing for future climate risks. Perspective essays on the importance of climate attribution science for managing water storage systems, planning for sea level rise and assigning legal liability after extreme weather events are included.


The perspectives underscore the need for climate scientists to work with decision makers to identify climate change effects on precisely defined risks that matter in high-stakes decisions.


“A decade ago, we were focused on continental-scale, months-long extremes,” Rosenfeld said. “Now researchers are often going after more local risks like heatwaves, fire danger, and floods on scales of a few days, for pinpointed areas of extreme impacts. In barely a decade, the research focus has evolved enough to address a wider scope of societal challenges.”


Scientific Support EPA Endangerment Even Stronger: Study


Scientific evidence supporting the EPA’s 2009 Endangerment Finding for greenhouse gases is even stronger and more conclusive now, according to a

study published by Sciencelast month. The finding could strengthen challenges to proposed efforts to rollback emissions standards and carbon emissions regulations in the United States.


In the landmark Endangerment Finding, EPA determined that greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare, which created a legal obligation for the agency to regulate greenhouse gases emissions under the Clean Air Act. The paper comes three months after a senior Republican senator said that the Trump Administration might still try to repeal the landmark decision.


“When the Endangerment Finding was issued, the evidence supporting it was extremely compelling,” said Woods Hole Research Center President Philip Duffy, lead author on the paper. “Now, that evidence is even stronger and more comprehensive. There’s no scientific basis for questioning the endangerment finding.”


The paper includes 16 authors from 15 different organizations. It assesses how the scientific evidence has changed in the nine years since the finding was issued, with a specific focus on climate change impacts for public health, air quality, agriculture, forestry, water resources, sea level rise, energy, infrastructure, wildlife, ocean acidification, social instability, and the economy.


“There is no question that public health and welfare are endangered by climate change and we know that with much more confidence now than we did in 2009,” said study co-author Chris Field, director of the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment.


The paper examines each topic covered by the Endangerment Finding and characterizes changes since 2009 in terms of evidence of links to anthropogenic climate change, severity of observed and projected impacts, and new risks.


“For each of the areas addressed in the [Endangerment Finding], the amount, diversity, and sophistication of the evidence has increased dramatically, clearly strengthening the case for endangerment,” according to the paper.


The study expands the range of negative impacts from climate change beyond those listed in 2009 to include increased dangers from ocean acidification, effects on national security and economic well-being, and even threats from violence.


“Much of what we’ve learned since the original Endangerment Finding in 2009 arises from extreme events,” said study co-author Noah Diffenbaugh, Kara J Foundation Professor of Earth System Science and Kimmelman Family Senior Fellow at Stanford University. “Our understanding of how global warming influences the odds of heat waves, droughts, heavy precipitation, storm surge flooding, and wildfires has increased dramatically in the last decade, as has our understanding of the related impacts, such as how hot conditions affect mental health, violence, and economic productivity.”


Global Fossil Fuel Emissions Climbed for Second Straight Year


Global fossil fuel emissions are on track to rise for a second year in a row, primarily due to growing energy use, according to new estimates from the Global Carbon Project, an initiative led by Stanford University scientist Rob Jackson.


The new projections came early in December just as international negotiators gathered in Katowice, Poland, to work out rules for implementing the Paris climate agreement. Under the 2015 accord, hundreds of nations pledged to cut carbon emissions and keep global warming “well below” 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures.


“We thought, perhaps hoped, emissions had peaked a few years ago,” said Jackson, a professor of Earth system science in Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences (Stanford Earth). “After two years of renewed growth, that was wishful thinking.”


The Global Carbon Project’s report, titled “Global Energy Growth Is Outpacing Decarbonization,” appeared Dec. 5 in the peer-reviewed Environmental Research Letters, with more detailed data published simultaneously in Earth System Science Data.


The group estimates global carbon dioxide(CO2) emissions from fossil fuel sources – which represent roughly 90 percent of all emissions from human activities – reached a record high of just over 37 billion tons in 2018, an increase of 2.7 percent over emissions output in 2017. That compares to 1.6 percent growth a year earlier. Emissions from non-fossil sources, such as deforestation, are projected to add nearly 4.5 billion tons of carbon emissions to the 2018 total.


“Global energy demand is outpacing powerful growth in renewables and energy efficiency,” said Jackson. “The clock is ticking in our struggle to keep warming below 2 degrees.”


In the United States, emissions of CO2 are projected to increase 2.5 percent in 2018 after a decade of declines. Factors promoting the increase include unusual weather – a cold winter in Eastern states and a warm summer across much of the nation ramped up energy needs for seasonal heating and cooling – as well as a growing appetite for oil in the face of low gas prices.


The United States produces far more CO2 emissions per person compared to the rest of the world.


Consumption of one fossil fuel, however, is no longer on the rise: coal. The study shows coal consumption in Canada and the United States has dropped 40 percent since 2005. In 2018 the United States is expected to take a record-setting 15 gigawatts of coal-fired capacity offline.


Yet the study shows renewables around the world are largely coming online as add-ons to fossil fuel energy sources – particularly natural gas – rather than replacements. “It isn’t enough for renewables to grow,” Jackson said. “They need to displace fossil fuels. So far, that’s happening for coal but not for oil or natural gas.”



Other News We Are Reading…

As Climate Change Bites in Midwest, Farmers Desperate to Ring the Alarm

(The Guardian)


Before massive flooding in 2011, Richard Oswald, a Missouri River valley crop farmer, was skeptical about the warnings that rising temperatures heralded a more difficult future. He said heavy rains and heavy snow in the Dakotas and Montana created a huge amount of water that resulted in a flood lasting in Missouri for almost four months. Since then, the routines of planting and harvesting that his family has pursued on the same land for five generations have given way to a haphazard cycle governed by waves of extreme heat and intense rains. “The changes have become more radical. The way the rains come down and the temperatures. You’re constantly trying to manage it,” said Oswald, a former president of the Missouri Farmers Union. “There’s so much unknown about the weather now that it’s pretty hard to do much about it.” Read more…


Green Energy Tide Sweeps Rural U.S. Despite Pushback from Trump



The Trump administration may be denying that humans contribute to climate change. But the marketplace is fully accepting such scientific findings. It’s true even in Trump country – or the midwestern United States – that is placing its bets with renewable energy. The president’s skepticism of manmade global warming coincides with his support of fossil fuels – that they have comprised the preponderance of energy use and that they are not going anywhere anytime soon. But the stark reality is that climate experts are warning that unless that the global community reduces its use of oil and coal, temperatures could rise and lead to devastating economic and environmental consequences. That’s why the corporate community and especially electric utilities are endorsing the use of lower-carbon fuels. “All in all, rural renewable energy projects are laying the foundation for a clean energy economy that meets the needs of local communities and provides clean and affordable energy throughout the (midwestern) region,” Arjun Krishnaswami wrote, a policy analyst for the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Federal leaders should increase funding for clean energy research, development, and demonstration projects that will continue to bring down the costs of clean energy and allow more people to gain access.” Read more…


World Bank Group Announces $200 bil. over Five Years for Climate Action

(The World Bank)


The World Bank Group today announced a major new set of climate targets for 2021-2025, doubling its current 5-year investments to around $200 billion in support for countries to take ambitious climate action. The new plan significantly boosts support for adaptation and resilience, recognizing mounting climate change impacts on lives and livelihoods, especially in the world’s poorest countries. The plan also represents significantly ramped up ambition from the World Bank Group, sending an important signal to the wider global community to do the same. “Climate change is an existential threat to the world’s poorest and most vulnerable. These new targets demonstrate how seriously we are taking this issue, investing and mobilizing $200 billion over five years to combat climate change,” World Bank Group President, Jim Yong Kim said. “We are pushing ourselves to do more and to go faster on climate and we call on the global community to do the same. This is about putting countries and communities in charge of building a safer, more climate-resilient future.” Read more…


Corn Ethanol Production Has Minimal Effect on Cropland Use, Study Shows

(University of Illinois)


Ethanol production has increased sharply in the United States in the past 10 years, leading to concerns about the expansion of demand for corn resulting in conversion of non-cropland to crop production and the environmental effects of this. However, a new study

co-authored by a University of Illinois researcher shows that the overall effects of ethanol production on land-use have been minimal. The research, published in the

American Journal of Agricultural Economics, looks at the effects of ethanol production capacity and crop prices on land use in the U. S. from 2007 to 2014. The increase in corn ethanol production has led to concerns that it would raise the price of corn and the demand for cropland; thus making it worthwhile to bring land that was not previously cultivated (such as grasslands) into production, says Madhu Khanna, a professor of agricultural and consumer economics at U of I. “Studies have simulated the crop price effects of producing 15 billion gallons of corn ethanol and shown that they could lead to large expansion in crop acres,” Khanna says. “We now have actual data on land-use change that has occurred since the ethanol expansion began in 2007 and can test whether the predictions of these models have held up. Interestingly, the raw data shows that although corn ethanol production more than doubled between 2007 and 2014, total cropland acres in 2014 were very similar to those in 2007 and the crop price index was lower in 2014 than in 2007.”

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