Climate Watch: From the effect on fish to carbon pricing initiatives, there’s a lot happening

Here are some things that have been happening on the climate front recently. Thanks go to Citizens’ Climate Lobby volunteer Ed Cullen for bringing many of these items to the group’s attention.

TROUT UNLIMITED
Eighty-nine percent of Trout Unlimited members acknowledge that climate change is happening, according to a survey by that organization. TU is an advocate for the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, which would use the market, not regulations, to reduce greenhouse gasses by 40 percent in 12 years.

CLIMATE CHANGE AND FISH
Research described in Science Magazine indicates that spawning adult fish and embryos are most vulnerable to climate warming. Between 10 and 60 percent of 694 species studied could be outside their tolerance limit for reproduction by 2100 if current climate trends continue.

GETTING FARMERS INTO THE CARBON MARKET
There is a bipartisan push in Congress to pass the “Growing Climate Solutions Act.” This measure would give farmers and other private landowners incentives to “… implement practices that capture carbon, reduce emissions, improve soil health and make operations more sustainable.” Co-sponsors include Republican Sens. Mike Braun (IN), and Lindsey Graham (SC), and Democrats Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) and Debbie Stabenow (MI).

AUSTIN INITIATIVE
The capitol city of Texas has put a price on carbon. By raising the price of coal just over a half-cent per kilowatt hour, Austin created economic pressure to choose cleaner energy sources. What’s cleaner became cheaper. This small shift will reduce Austin’s carbon emissions by 30 percent, or four million metric tons between now and 2022. It also helps to price coal more accurately instead of allowing coal plants to pollute and pass all that cost onto society.

STUDY SHOWS CARBON PRICING WORKS
Three Australian researchers analyzed data for 142 nations over two decades, including 43 that had a carbon price of some form. They found that carbon dioxide emissions fell by two percent per year from 2007 to 2017 in nations with a price on carbon. But CO2 emissions rose three percent per year in nations without a carbon price. The study is in Environmental and Resource Economics, a scholarly journal.

GAS FLARING AND PREGNANCY
Women who lived near fracking operations that burn off excess natural gas — a process called “flaring” — had a 50 percent greater likelihood of pre-term births in babies. So reports a study in Environmental Health Perspectives, a peer-reviewed journal.

GAS FLARING AND THE EPA
A coalition of ten environmental organizations will sue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for inadequate regulation of industrial flares which pump methane into the atmosphere. The Clean Air Act requires EPA to review flare standards every eight years, but EPA has not done it in 34 years.

METHANE EMISSIONS RISING
Methane is the second-most important greenhouse gas and accounts for about one-quarter of global warming. Methane emissions increased nine percent between the early 2000s and 2017, according to a study published in Environmental Research Letters. Agricultural and fossil fuel sources are about equally responsible.

TAXPAYER SUBSIDY FOR FOSSIL FUELS IN PA
Over the objections of many environmental groups, the Pennsylvania legislature in July passed a law creating a new tax credit to encourage the use of natural gas in manufacturing. The bill provides up to $26.6 million in credits per year, under certain conditions, to fossil fuel energy firms investing in Pennsylvania projects.

This article originally appeared in the Centre Daily Times.

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