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UN climate change report contrasts with recent EPA policy changes

A report from the international scientific authority on climate change warning consequences could be drastic...

Posted: Oct 9, 2018 11:04 AM
Updated: Oct 9, 2018 11:04 AM

A report from the international scientific authority on climate change warning consequences could be drastic if "rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes" are not made to mitigate global warming contrasts starkly with Trump administration policies decreasing federal regulation of greenhouse gas emissions.

The report, released Monday, evaluates what consequences the world will face if global temperatures increase by 1.5 or 2 degrees Celsius -- 2.7 or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit -- as part of a directive to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change when the Paris Climate Accord was adopted in 2015. President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the agreement in June 2017, keeping a campaign promise.

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To prevent global warming from passing 1.5 degrees Celsius, emissions would "need to decline rapidly across all of society's main sectors," such as industry, energy and agriculture, the report says. Global net emissions of carbon dioxide would need to fall by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030 and reach "net zero" around 2050 to keep the warming around that level.

Instead of bolstering policies that strictly limit greenhouse gas emissions, recent policy changes from the Trump administration relax those restrictions.

  • In August, the Trump administration implemented two policies that reversed the previous administration's attempt at reducing these emissions. On August 2, the administration announced plans to freeze an Obama-era regulation that required automakers to make cars more fuel efficient. It also announced plans to withdraw California's Clean Air Act pre-emption waiver, which has enabled the state to set its own emission standards because of its air quality issues. About 13 other states, along with Washington, DC, follow California's standards.

  • A few weeks later, the Environmental Protection Agency introduced the Affordable Clean Energy rule, which shifted the power to regulate coal power plants' carbon emissions from the federal government back to the states.

  • In September, the EPA released a proposal that would relax requirements for how energy companies monitor and repair methane leaks. The new proposal would require companies to conduct leak inspections at least once a year -- or every two years for low-producing oil and gas wells -- compared with every six months under the previous Obama-era rule. It also would give companies 60 days to repair leaks instead of 30.

  • When Congress passed the tax overhaul bill at the end of 2017, a provision in the legislation opened up Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling. Congress had tried to pass the measure a number of times previously.

The UN panel's report names a number of ways countries can reduce emissions, including "phasing out coal in the energy sector, increasing the amount of energy produced from renewable sources" and "electrifying transport."

"We appreciate the hard work of the scientists and experts, many from the United States, who developed this report under considerable time pressure," EPA spokesman John Konkus said in a statement to CNN. "In accordance with IPCC procedures, the report and its contents remain the responsibility of its authors. Governments do not formally endorse specific findings presented by the authors."

Konkus noted that US greenhouse gas emissions have fallen by 12% since 2005.

Scientists working on the report said the world is already starting to see the impact of global warming by 1 degree Celsius and warned that if countries don't intervene to hold the warming at only 1.5 degrees Celsius -- instead of allowing it to reach 2 degrees Celsius -- some of the damage could be irreparable.

"Every extra bit of warming matters, especially since warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius or higher increases the risk associated with long-lasting or irreversible changes, such as the loss of some ecosystems," Hans-Otto Pörtner, a co-chair of the panel's Working Group II, one of the groups that compiled the report, said in a news release.

When asked what policies the EPA has implemented to reduce emissions, Konkus said that "every action EPA takes is directed to improve human health and the environment."

He noted that the EPA continues to implement the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule Update, a regulation that addresses interstate transport of ozone pollution during summer months in the Eastern United States. Under the rule update finalized in 2016 during the Obama administration, 2017 ozone season nitrogen oxide emissions were 21% below 2016 levels. In the first half of 2018, there has been a 4% reduction in nitrogen oxide compared with the first half of 2017, according to Konkus.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 749532

Reported Deaths: 13746
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1030911775
Lake554681006
Allen41636691
St. Joseph36947564
Hamilton36527416
Elkhart29363459
Tippecanoe22862225
Vanderburgh22542400
Porter19331325
Johnson18405388
Hendricks17588317
Clark13200193
Madison13120344
Vigo12604253
LaPorte12394221
Monroe12163175
Delaware10947198
Howard10263225
Kosciusko9614119
Hancock8549144
Bartholomew8162157
Warrick7854156
Floyd7772180
Grant7229179
Wayne7155201
Boone6917103
Morgan6736141
Dubois6211118
Marshall6206116
Cass5991108
Henry5894108
Dearborn588978
Noble580186
Jackson508674
Shelby500897
Lawrence4732121
Gibson444093
Harrison440773
Clinton440055
DeKalb438785
Montgomery434690
Whitley406042
Huntington402281
Steuben399259
Miami392768
Jasper386954
Knox375790
Putnam372160
Wabash360583
Ripley346570
Adams344955
Jefferson335685
White330253
Daviess3031100
Wells295181
Decatur289992
Greene286385
Fayette284864
Posey273735
LaGrange272872
Scott269955
Clay265848
Washington244934
Randolph244683
Jennings235149
Spencer234231
Starke227558
Fountain218647
Sullivan213943
Owen211058
Fulton201542
Jay200932
Carroll193420
Orange188055
Perry186937
Rush175726
Vermillion173644
Franklin170235
Tipton165846
Parke149016
Pike138034
Blackford136132
Pulaski120247
Newton112736
Brown103943
Crawford102316
Benton101014
Martin91515
Warren83615
Switzerland8098
Union72810
Ohio57811
Unassigned0420

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1107225

Reported Deaths: 20091
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1285061459
Cuyahoga1156322204
Hamilton812991245
Montgomery524951040
Summit48356999
Lucas43309817
Butler38903603
Stark33297929
Lorain25641502
Warren24558303
Mahoning22332601
Lake21139385
Clermont20098252
Delaware18819135
Licking16649222
Fairfield16564204
Trumbull16527479
Medina15597270
Greene15256246
Clark14223306
Wood13281197
Portage13229214
Allen11903239
Richland11598211
Miami10837223
Wayne9116222
Columbiana9023230
Muskingum8889135
Pickaway8652122
Tuscarawas8639247
Marion8635138
Erie8052164
Ashtabula7139179
Hancock6996131
Ross6934161
Geauga6832150
Scioto6530104
Belmont6149174
Union583849
Lawrence5723102
Jefferson5669158
Huron5539122
Sandusky5437125
Darke5415129
Seneca5344126
Washington5308109
Athens523360
Auglaize501687
Mercer487285
Shelby476295
Knox4568112
Madison443765
Ashland435197
Putnam4334103
Fulton431871
Defiance431798
Crawford4033110
Brown401961
Logan387377
Preble3847103
Clinton378566
Ottawa372781
Highland359465
Williams347878
Champaign343858
Guernsey324253
Jackson317554
Perry297150
Morrow291340
Fayette285350
Hardin274865
Henry273267
Holmes2699101
Coshocton268459
Van Wert247264
Adams242956
Pike242735
Gallia240550
Wyandot234556
Hocking220162
Carroll196948
Paulding176342
Meigs148240
Monroe136144
Noble135839
Harrison113738
Morgan109624
Vinton85417
Unassigned03
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