Sustainability Reads: February 24- March 2

62 Countries Now Have ‘Flagship’ Legislation on Climate Change
A new study by GLOBE International and London School of Economics’ Grantham Research Institute reveals that 62 countries now have ‘flagship’ legislation on climate change. In 2013, eight countries passed significant new legislation. The study looked at 66 countries in total, which together make up 88% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Almost 500 pieces of climate policies have been passed in the 66 countries studied. Many hope that this new information will incentivize countries that do not have national climate legislation to join these 62 countries in adapting national climate change policies. This study also gives policymakers options and examples of policies that would be appropriate for their own country.  This is the 4th Climate Legislation Study published by GLOBE International, and in the 3rd, only 33 countries were studied. Posted on TheClimateGroup.org.

What can John Kerry accomplish with his climate talk?
After U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry “equated the threat of catastrophic climate change to that of nuclear weapons proliferation” last Sunday in Indonesia, environmentalists and foreign policymakers alike are now looking to the United States to see what the next move will be. Although some claim that Kerry’s speech won’t measure up to anything because talks are simply that, just talks, UC San Diego Professor David Victor mentions that the speech is significant in that it signals to other big emitters like China that the U.S. is serious about working with the other large emitters in joint climate action. Some skeptics are waiting for the action that will follow the speech before believing in it, but as I. M. (Mac) Destler of University of Maryland points out, “Secretary of state speeches are influential because they announce some action they are going to pursue,” giving us some hope that Kerry’s talk will be followed by U.S. action.  Written by Ben Alder at Grist.

Colorado Becomes The First State To Regulate Methane Emissions From Fracking
Regulations finalized in Colorado on Sunday February 23rd have resulted in the first regulations on methane emissions from fracking in the United States. Colorado’s new laws will require operators in the state to comply with stricter leak detection requirements, as it is said that about 4-6% of methane leaks from fracking operations. Methane is 20 times more potent in global warming potential than carbon dioxide and these new regulations are said to ‘cut overall air pollution in Colorado by 92,000 tons a year — roughly equivalent to taking every car in the state off the road for a year’. This is a significant step in the U.S. to regulate the hydraulic fracturing industry, which up until now has been largely unregulated. Colorado’s new laws will hopefully set a precedent for the rest of the U.S.’s fracking-happy states to follow. Published on ClimateProgess by Kiley Kroh.

Did the State Department Fail Obama on Keystone XL?
This article provides an informative outline on the process that was the Keystone XL environmental impact report and the conflict of interests involved. It highlights the fact that environmental impact evaluation in the United States is flawed and weak. Although the State Department’s Inspector General has recently claimed that there was no conflict of interest in hiring ERM as a contractor for the Keystone XL environmental impact report, some are still very critical of the legitimacy and credibility of hiring a company that has such presence in TransCanada operations. The author also quotes Paul Thacker, a fellow at Harvard University’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, who claims that such weak monitoring of impact assessments would never occur in the medicine or drug fields, yet for environmental sciences no one thinks twice.  Thacker also states that this type of project should not have been the responsibility of the State Department, an agency that does not have its own internal experts and scientists, but should have gone to the EPA or FDA. Despite the Inspector General’s claim of no conflict of interest, Arizona Representative Raúl Grijalva has requested that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to take another look at the issue.  Article by Brad Wieners and published on Bloomberg Buisnessweek.

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