By Jessica Corbett
As the Biden administration reviews the U.S. government's federal fossil fuels program and faces pressure to block any new dirty energy development, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland won praise from environmentalists on Friday for issuing a pair of climate-related secretarial orders.
"Today is a watershed moment in the history of the U.S. Department of the Interior," declared Jeremy Nichols, climate and energy program director for WildEarth Guardians. "With Secretary Haaland's actions today, it's clear the Interior Department is now working for communities, science, and justice. We are grateful for her leadership and bold action to put people over polluters."
"Today's orders make certain that the Interior Department is no longer going to serve as a rubber-stamp for the coal and oil and gas industries," said Nichols. "Secretary Haaland's actions set the stage for deep reforms within the Interior Department to ensure the federal government gets out of the business of fossil fuels and into the business of confronting the climate crisis."
BREAKING: Interior Secretary Deb Haalaned just repealed Trump-era policies that prioritized Big Oil execs above com… https://t.co/m1d2uolRWV— Friends of the Earth (Action) (@Friends of the Earth (Action))1618595500.0
Secretarial Order 3398 rescinds a dozen orders issued under the Trump administration which an Interior statement collectively described as "inconsistent with the department's commitment to protect public health; conserve land, water, and wildlife; and elevate science."
Specifically, she revoked: S.O. 3348; S.O. 3349; SO 3350; S.O. 3351; SO 3352; S.O. 3354; S.O. 3355; S.O. 3358; S.O. 3360; S.O. 3380; SO 3385; and SO 3389. Implemented throughout former President Donald Trump's term, they related to "American energy independence," the National Petroleum Reserve – Alaska, and leasing and permitting for energy projects, among other topics. With the order, Haaland reinstated the federal moratorium on coal leasing.
Haaland's other measure, Secretarial Order 3399, establishes a departmental Climate Task Force that will identify policies needed to tackle the climate emergency, support the use of the best available science on greenhouse gas emissions, implement the review and reconsideration of federal gas and oil leasing and permitting practices, identify actions needed to "address current and historic environmental injustice" as well as "foster economic revitalization of, and investment in, energy communities," and work with state, tribe, and local governments.
The department also noted that "the solicitor's office issued a withdrawal of M-37062, an opinion that concluded that the Interior secretary must promulgate a National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program consisting of a five-year lease schedule with at least two lease sales during the five-year plan," which allows DOI "to evaluate its obligations under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act."
Today, @SecHaaland revoked a dozen pro-Big Oil and anti-environment orders from the Trump administration. Little by… https://t.co/p0tHEciEct— Western Values Project (@Western Values Project)1618606421.0
Haaland — a former congresswoman and first-ever Native American Cabinet secretary whose confirmation was celebrated by climate campaigners, Indigenous leaders, and various progressive advocacy groups — said Friday that "from day one, President Biden was clear that we must take a whole-of-government approach to tackle the climate crisis, strengthen the economy, and address environmental justice."
"At the Department of the Interior, I believe we have a unique opportunity to make our communities more resilient to climate change and to help lead the transition to a clean energy economy, Haaland continued. "These steps will align the Interior Department with the president's priorities and better position the team to be a part of the climate solution."
"I know that signing secretarial orders alone won't address the urgency of the climate crisis. But I'm hopeful that these steps will help make clear that we, as a department, have a mandate to act," she added. "With the vast experience, talent, and ingenuity of our public servants at the Department of the Interior, I'm optimistic about what we can accomplish together to care for our natural resources for the benefit of current and future generations."
Haaland's orders were welcomed by environmental and climate groups as well as other critics of fossil fuel development on public lands and in federal waters.
Kristen Miller, conservation director at Alaska Wilderness League, said the orders "are another important step toward restoring scientific integrity, meaningful public process, and the longstanding stewardship responsibilities for America's public lands and waters at the Department of Interior. This is the type of bold and visionary leadership we need if we're to effectively fight climate change, tackle the extinction crisis, and prioritize environmental justice and tribal consultation."
"We applaud the secretary's actions to ensure meaningful consultation and elevate strong science, especially around climate change, into decision-making across the department," Miller added. "And we thank the secretary for reversing the Trump administration's energy dominance agenda in the Arctic Ocean and the National Petroleum Reserve – Alaska, and look forward to working with her on a different management direction for the western Arctic that focuses on addressing the climate crisis and protecting its extraordinary wildlife habitat, biodiversity, and cultural values."
Environment America public lands campaign director Ellen Montgomery said that "Haaland is building on President Biden's strong start by restoring conservation as a priority for the Department of the Interior. Our public lands and waters should be protected for the sake of the wildlife and people who depend on them. They should not be mined and drilled to extract fossil fuels — an antiquated 20th-century pursuit that pollutes our air and makes climate change worse."
"The Interior Department is in a powerful position to drive bold action for the climate in the United States," said Nichols of WildEarth Guardians. "Haaland's actions today confirm that President Biden and his administration are seizing the opportunity to rein in fossil fuels and make climate action and climate justice a reality."
"We can't have fossil fuels and a safe climate and today's orders take a major step forward in acknowledging and acting upon this reality," he said. "If we truly have any chance of protecting peoples' health, advancing economic prosperity, and achieving environmental justice, we have to start keeping our fossil fuels in the ground."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
On Friday, China set out an economic blueprint for the next five years, which was expected to substantiate the goal set out last fall by President Xi Jinping for the country to reach net-zero emissions before 2060 and hit peak emissions by 2030.
While the plan calls for a "major push" on clean energy development, a few aspects have left climate experts with questions about how exactly the world's largest emitter will hit its stated climate goals. For example, the plan did not include a ban on new coal projects, nor did it set a "carbon cap" to define what peak emissions will be, instead setting a carbon intensity target that is the same as in the previous five-ear plan.
However, some are hopeful that the government will announce more detailed regulations on carbon-intensive construction and manufacturing industries later this year, and that more details will be laid out in an upcoming separate five-year plan for the energy sector. Fan Dai, director of the California-China Climate Institute at the University of California, Berkeley, told Quartz that the plan is "simply aggregating existing targets from last year."
Dai added that "[t]here's a lot of room for further development and ambition, especially around those targets that were missing that we hoped would be included."
As reported by The Guardian:
China will reduce its "emissions intensity" – the amount of CO2 produced per unit of GDP – by 18% over the period 2021 to 2025, but this target is in line with previous trends, and could lead to emissions continuing to increase by 1% a year or more. Non-fossil fuel energy is targeted to make up 20% of China's energy mix, leaving plenty of room for further expansion of the country's coal industry.
Swithin Lui, of the Climate Action Tracker and NewClimate Institute, said: "[This is] underwhelming and shows little sign of a concerted switch away from a future coal lock-in. There is little sign of the change needed [to meet net zero]."
Zhang Shuwei, chief economist at Draworld Environment Research Centre, said: "As the first five-year plan after China committed to reach carbon neutrality by 2060, the 14th five-year plan was expected to demonstrate strong climate ambition. However, the draft plan presented does not seem to meet the expectations. The international community expected China's climate policy to 'jump,' but in reality it is still crawling."
For a deeper dive:
Krill oil has gained a lot of popularity recently as a superior alternative to fish oil. Basically, the claim goes, anything fish oil can do, krill oil does better. Read on to learn what makes krill oil supplements better than fish oil supplements, why you should consider adding these to your list of vitamin subscriptions and supplements, and which brands we recommend.
What is Krill Oil?
Krill oil is made from a tiny, shrimp-like crustaceans that live in the ocean and usually serve as whale food. In fact, krill means "whale food" in Norwegian. These tiny organisms actually play an extremely important role in the food chains of marine ecosystems. The krill used to make krill oil are usually found in the waters around Antarctica.
Just like the fish oils found in supplements, krill oil is rich in omega 3 fatty acids that contain EPA and DHA, two compounds that are proven to have a number of health benefits. Krill oil can help support healthy skin, in addition to other vitamin supplements for dry skin.
But what makes krill oil better than fish oil?
It's believed that krill oil is better absorbed in the body than fish oil. Both derive most of their benefits through the EPA and DHA that are contained in their fatty acid stores. However, for the same dose, krill oil will result in more fatty acids in the blood than fish oil. A potential explanation for this is that while fish oil's fatty acids come as triglycerides, krill oil's come as phospholipids which are more easily processed by the body.
Additionally, krill oil contains astaxanthin which is an antioxidant that has anti-inflammatory properties that might have an enhanced positive effect on heart health. Studies have shown that krill oil is more effective than fish oil at lowering blood pressure and lowering bad cholesterol.
Our Picks for the Best Krill Oil Supplements
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. You can learn more about our review methodology here. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
- Best Overall - Vital Plan Krill Oil Plus
- Strongest: Bulletproof Omega Krill Complex
- Best for Cognitive Health - Onnit Krill Oil
- Best for Heart Health - NOW Neptune Krill Oil
- Best for Joint Health - Viva Naturals Antarctic Krill Oil
- Best for Sustainability - Sports Research Antarctic Krill Oil
How We Chose the Best Krill Oil Supplements
Here are the factors that we considered when comparing the best krill oil brands to create our list of recommended supplements.
Omega-3 Content - We looked to see the amount of omega-3 fatty acids contained in each krill oil softgel or capsule.
Astaxanthin Content - The best krill oil pills contain this naturally-occurring antioxidant.
Third-Party Lab Testing - For any nutritional supplement, we choose brands that guarantee the quality of their product through independent lab testing.
Krill Source - We also compared these supplements for the source of their krill oil, and only recommend brands that use sustainably-harvested krill.
The 6 Best Krill Oil Supplements
Best Overall: Vital Plan Krill Oil Plus
- Omega-3s - 330 mg per 3 softgels
- Astaxanthin - 150 mcg per 3 softgels
- Krill Source - Antarctica
Why buy: We love Vital Plan Krill Oil Plus because it contains omega-3 fatty acids, astaxanthin, and choline to help promote brain, cardiovascular, and joint health, and because it is made with sustainably-harvested Antarctic krill. In fact, Vital Plan uses Superba krill oil, which is certified sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and is 100% traceable.
Strongest: Bulletproof Omega Krill Complex
- Omega-3s - 1,560 mg per 2 softgels
- Astaxanthin - 2 mg per 2 softgels
- Krill Source - Antarctica
Why buy: Bulletproof Omega Krill Complex offers the highest concentration of omega-3s on our list. Made with a unique blend of wild-caught Atlantic and Pacific sardine, anchovy, and mackerel oils, Norwegian herring roe oil, and Antarctic krill oil, it packs 1,560 mg of omega-3 fatty acids into two softgels. We love that they only partner with MSC or Friend of the Sea certified sustainable fisheries for their oils.
Best for Cognitive Health: Onnit Krill Oil
- Omega-3s - 240 mg per 2 softgels
- Astaxanthin - 200 mcg per 2 softgels
- Krill Source - Antarctica
Why buy: Onnit Krill Oil makes it easy to supplement your diet with the essential nutrients found in krill with just two softgels per day. The DHA and EPA fatty acids, plus astaxanthin, contained in these supplements can help support better cognitive, heart, and joint health. Plus, they source their krill from a Friend of the Sea certified supplier.
Best for Heart Health: NOW Neptune Krill Oil
- Omega-3s - 250 mg per 2 softgels
- Astaxanthin - 360 mcg per 2 softgels
- Source - Antarctica
Why buy: NOW Neptune Krill Oil supplements use 100% Neptune krill oil, a patented oil derived from Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba). Two softgels contain 250 mg of omega-3 fatty acids and 360 mcg of astaxanthin that can promote better cardiovascular and joint health. We like NOW Neptune Krill Oil because they also get their krill oil from a Friend of the Sea certified source.
Best for Joint Health: Viva Naturals Antarctic Krill Oil
- Omega-3s - 330 mg per 2 capsules
- Astaxanthin - 1.6 mg per 2 capsules
- Source - Antarctica
Why buy: Viva Naturals uses a trademarked Caplique capsulation to avoid any krill oil odor or potential fishy burps. WIth 90 mg of DHA and 165 mg of EPA per 2 capsule serving, this supplement will definitely give you your money's worth, as they pack more DHA and EPA than your average supplement. We like that these capsules contain a higher concentration of the antioxidant astaxanthin, and are designed to eliminate any fishy aftertaste.
Best for Sustainability: Sports Research Antarctic Krill Oil
- Omega-3s - 240 mg per softgel
- Astaxanthin - 500 mcg per softgel
- Source - Antarctica
Why buy: IKOS certified and made with their proprietary Superba krill oil formula, Sports Research Antarctic Krill Oil is an excellent choice if you're looking to enjoy the benefits that quality omega-3 fatty acids can provide. Every softgel capsule contains 1000 mg of krill oil, making it a potent source of omega-3 fatty acids. We like that their krill oil is also certified as sustainably sourced by the MSC.
The Research on Krill Oil Supplements
Research has long demonstrated the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids commonly found in foods like fish, nuts, and certain grains like flax seed. Since krill oil naturally contains higher levels of these beneficial nutrients, it has also been found to provide a number of health benefits.
Numerous studies have linked the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and krill oil to cardiovascular health, finding that those who ingest higher levels of these nutrients are at lower risk for coronary heart disease, potentially lower risk of stroke, and have lower cholesterol levels. Another study found that krill oil supplements offer a safe alternative to fish oil for those seeking cardiovascular benefits in a smaller and more convenient form.
Krill oil supplementation has also been found to help reduce the symptoms of knee and joint pain.
Additionally, researches found that rats given krill oil supplements showed improved cognitive function and benefited from anti-depressant-like effects. However, more research on its effect for human brain development and function is needed.
How to Choose the Right Krill Oil Supplement
When shopping for a krill oil supplement, there are important pieces of information that you should always look for. Here are some tips on how to compare brands and how to read labels.
What to Look For
For any supplement, always check to see if it has undergone third-party lab testing for quality and safety. This is especially important for any fish or krill oil to make sure that it does not contain any harmful compounds like mercury.
Look for the amount of krill oil contained in each capsule and each serving (as these will sometimes differ). You should choose supplements that offer between 200 mg and 350 mg of omega-3 fatty acids per serving for the best results.
Make it a priority to learn where the brand sources its supply of krill oil. We recommend brands that use sustainably-harvested Antarctic krill oil because the process of harvesting is more tightly regulated by various groups.
This is good advice for all nutritional supplements, but be sure the krill oil you choose does not contain any unwanted or unnecessary ingredients. All of our recommendations contain just the krill oil and the capsule it comes in.
How to Read Labels
When you are comparing krill oil supplements, here are some key things to look for on any label:
- Supplement Facts - This is where you can find information on the amount of krill oil in each capsule, how many capsules make up one serving, and a breakdown of how many omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients are contained in the supplement.
- Other Ingredients - Listed at the bottom of the supplement facts table, this list will tell you what the capsule itself is made of and if there are any additional ingredients present.
- Certifications - Check the label for important certifications and seals of approvals that can tell you if a krill oil is IKOS-certified, third-party lab tested, or sustainably harvest.
How to Use Krill Oil Supplements
Krill oil supplements typically come in capsules that you swallow with water, just like any probiotic supplements, digestive enzymes, or vitamin supplements to boost your immune system. For most brands, 2 to 3 capsules make up a single serving, and you can take a serving either once or twice per day. Some brands recommend their supplements be taken with food to aid in their digestion and absorption.
Safety & Side Effects
While krill oil supplements are generally considered safe for most adults, it is extremely important to note that you should not take krill oil if you are allergic to shellfish. The potential side effects for krill oil are considered mild and similar to fish oils, including:
- Upset stomach
- Fishy taste
As bitcoin's fortunes and prominence rise, so do concerns about its environmental impact.
The process of mining the cryptocurrency is enormously energy intensive, so much so that it consumes more electricity in a year than Argentina or the Ukraine, according to the latest data from the Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index. Its energy hunger even led to a warning from Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen last week, as CNBC reported.
"It's an extremely inefficient way of conducting transactions," Yellen said, "and the amount of energy that's consumed in processing those transactions is staggering."
Bitcoin's value rose past $50,000 two weeks ago, CNN Business reported at the time. It was in part buoyed by the success of Elon Musk, whose electric car company Tesla made more than $900 million after buying $1.5 billion of the currency, BBC News reported. Its value has subsided somewhat since then, The Guardian reported. But Musk's endorsement raised a concern: How did his support of the currency meld with Tesla's goal of moving the world towards a "zero-emission future?"
The question is larger than Musk, of course. Bitcoin mining is energy intensive by design. There are only 21 million bitcoins that can be mined, a process that involves solving complex math problems on a computer to release new coins. When bitcoin first started in 2009, it was possible to mine for bitcoin on a normal computer. However, the currency is designed so that the fewer bitcoins left to be released, the more complicated the problems become. Now that 18.5 million bitcoins have been mined, an average computer cannot handle the calculations.
As the price rises, more people are motivated to get in on the action.
"They want to get that revenue," University of Chicago economics professor Gina Pieters told BBC News, "and that's what's going to encourage them to introduce more and more powerful machines in order to guess this random number, and therefore you will see an increase in energy consumption."
Pieters is part of the University of Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance (CCAF), which runs the bitcoin electricity use index. CCAF calculates that bitcoin now uses 129.22 terawatt hours of electricity a year, according to its most recent update.
This doesn't necessarily mean that mining bitcoin is increasing greenhouse gas emissions. Bitcoin proponents say that the mining can be powered using renewable energy sources, according to The Guardian. However, the mining process does motivate miners to seek out cheap energy sources.
"The more machines a miner operates, the more likely he is to find the solution to the puzzle," the CCAF explained. "However, more machines also means that more electricity is needed to run and cool the equipment, which in turn results in higher costs for the miner in question. Miners are thus always searching for abundant electricity sources at the lowest possible price."
Seeking the cheapest electricity source may mean coal in many places, The Guardian pointed out. More bitcoin is mined in China than in any other country, and about two-thirds of its electricity still comes from coal.
The CCAF said it does not yet have the data to determine the cryptocurrency's carbon footprint, since this would require accurate assessments of the energy mix behind mining. However, it pointed out that even if all bitcoin mining was powered by coal, an unlikely scenario, it would still only account for 0.17 percent of the world's total greenhouse gas emissions. That doesn't mean bitcoin's growth isn't a concern for the attempts to combat the climate crisis, however.
"There are valid concerns that Bitcoin's growing electricity consumption may pose a threat to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in the future," the index wrote.
That threat increases the more bitcoin gains in popularity. Bitcoin expert and Digiconomist founder Alex de Vries told BBC News what would happen if bitcoin were adapted as a global reserve currency.
"[T]he Bitcoin price will probably be in the millions, and those miners will have more money than the entire [US] Federal budget to spend on electricity. We'd have to double our global energy production," he said. "For Bitcoin."
- 15 Top Conservation Issues of 2021 Include Big Threats, Potential ... ›
- How Blockchain Could Boost Clean Energy - EcoWatch ›
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Nearly 5 million electricity customers across the United States lost power over the weekend as extreme weather, including frigid temperatures and ice storms, drove up demand and shut down electricity generation.
The widespread outages underscore the vulnerability of the power grid to extreme weather events made more frequent, powerful, and unpredictable by climate change. "I cannot recall an extreme weather event that impacted such a large swath of the nation in this manner — the situation is critical," Neil Chatterjee, a member of the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, told Bloomberg.
The outages are most dire in Texas, where nearly 4 million customers were still without power Tuesday morning. The state's grid operator said 34 gigawatts, as much as 40% of its generation capacity, was forced offline, sending electricity prices skyrocketing to the legal limit of $9,000 per megawatt-hour and forcing the implementation of rolling blackouts.
The lost generation capacity was driven in large part by the 27 gigawatts of coal-, gas-, and nuclear-generated electricity forced offline by the cold and ice. Wind generation exceeded the Texas grid operator's daily forecast through the weekend. The storms wreaked havoc on U.S. methane gas markets, as physical delivery gas prices in Oklahoma smashed previous records. More than 3 million barrels of daily oil-processing capacity also shut down Monday as the largest refineries in North America were forced to halt operations because of the cold.
For a deeper dive:
Bloomberg, Bloomberg, The New York Times, AP; Generating sources' performance during storm: Bloomberg, TechCruch; Oklahoma gas prices: Financial Post; Refineries: Bloomberg; Climate change links: The Washington Post, The Washington Post, The Weather Channel, Texas Climate News; Climate Signals background: Winter storm risk increase
- How Global Warming Can Cause Europe's Harsh Winter Weather ... ›
- Texas Grid Operator Overcharged Power Companies $16 Billion During Winter Storm - EcoWatch ›
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a rule change on Friday that will allow some coal power plants to ignore a court order to clean up coal ash ponds, which leech toxic materials into soil and groundwater. The rule change will allow some coal ash ponds to stay open for years while others that have no barrier to protect surrounding areas are allowed to stay open indefinitely, according to the AP.
The arsenic-laced sludge that fills coal ash ponds is likely to leak when just a plastic barrier protects it. It is far more likely to pollute nearby soil and water when the pits have a clay barrier, according to researchers, as The Hill reported.
A 2018 order from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit had forced the EPA to close coal ash ponds that did not have plastic lining and were likely to leak toxic chemicals, making Friday's rule change seem like a blatant move to undermine the court's authority, according to environmental groups who promised to sue to stop the rule change, as The Hill reported.
Environmentalists argue that the rule change is a favor to the coal industry, for which EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler served as a lobbyist prior to joining the Trump administration. The move allows the industry to dump its byproducts inexpensively and irresponsibly.
"The reason the utilities are arguing to keep the ponds is because they have put in these unlined pits out the back door of the power plant that act as a catchall for their toxic waste," said Lisa Evans, an attorney for the environmental group Earthjustice, as the AP reported. "They don't want to get rid of them because they are cheap."
Earthjustice and the Environmental Integrity Project commissioned a study on coal ash ponds and found that 91 percent of them were leaking toxic chemicals beyond what was permitted by EPA regulations, as The Hill reported. Their study found that heavy metals from the waste was polluting nearby drinking wells and groundwater.
Coal ash is produced when coal is burned to produce power. It is full of arsenic, mercury, lead and several other hazardous heavy metals. In the U.S., coal plants create nearly 100 million tons annually of ash and other waste, according to the AP.
"When ponds without lining leak, it's often more aggressive, faster and harder to control," said Evans, as The Hill reported. "Utilities are asking for favors and exemptions and EPA is willing to give them and is willing to rush to provide these exemptions."
The 2018 court decision found that clay lined coal ash ponds, or unlined ponds, are simply dangerous, as the AP reported.
Evans noted that the Obama-era Resource Conservation and Recovery Act required power plants to close unlined coal-ash ponds by April 2019, but the EPA keeps extending the deadline, as the AP reported.
By rewriting the rule, coal plants are able to get around the mandates of the 2015 Resource Conservation and Recovery Act by simply showing that their coal ash ponds pose no threat to human health.
"The Trump EPA is flouting the court's decision," said Evans, as the AP reported. "I've never seen anything like this before."
- 10 Ways Andrew Wheeler Has Decimated EPA Protections in Just ... ›
- What a Real Coal Ash Cleanup Looks Like - EcoWatch ›
One of the silver linings of the coronavirus pandemic was the record drop in greenhouse gas emissions following national lockdowns. But that drop is set to all but reverse as economies begin to recover, the International Energy Agency (IEA) warned Tuesday.
Overall energy demand is expected to rise 4.6 percent this year compared to 2020 and 0.5 percent compared to 2019, according to the IEA's Global Energy Review 2021. Demand for fossil fuels is expected to jump to such an extent that emissions will rise by nearly five percent in 2021. This will reverse 80 percent of the emissions decline reported in 2020, to end emissions just 1.2 percent below 2019 emissions levels. Because the lockdown saw the biggest drop in energy demand since World War II, the projected increase in carbon dioxide emissions will still be the second-highest on record, BBC News pointed out.
"This is a dire warning that the economic recovery from the COVID crisis is currently anything but sustainable for our climate," IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said in a statement reported by AFP.
Birol said much of that increase was being driven by the resurgence of coal use. In fact, coal demand is expected to increase by 60 percent more than all forms of renewable energy, according to the report. Overall coal demand is expected to increase by 4.5 percent in 2021. More than 80 percent of that growth is in Asia, and more than 50 percent is in China. While coal use is expected to increase in the U.S. and Europe as well, it will remain far below pre-pandemic levels. Still, global coal use is expected to rise to nearly its 2014 peak, BBC News reported.
Natural gas demand is also expected to rise by 3.2 percent in 2021, to put it more than one percent above 2019 levels, according to the report.
There are, however, two bright spots in the report from a climate perspective. The first is that oil demand, while up 6.2 percent from 2020, is still expected to remain around 3 percent below 2019 levels. This is because oil use for ground transportation is not expected to recover until the end of 2021, and oil use for air travel is expected to remain at 20 percent below 2019 levels by December of 2021.
"A full return to pre-crisis oil demand levels would have pushed up CO2 emissions a further 1.5%, putting them well above 2019 levels," the report authors wrote.
The second bright spot is that renewable energy demand is set to rise in all sectors in 2021. In power, where its rise is the greatest, it is set to increase by more than eight percent. This is "the largest year-on-year growth on record in absolute terms," the report authors wrote.
Renewable energy will provide 30 percent of electricity overall, BBC News reported, which is the highest percentage since the industrial revolution. The problem is that the increase in renewables is running parallel to an increase in fossil fuels in some places. China, for example, is also expected to account for almost half of the rise in renewable electricity.
"As we have seen at the country-level in the past 15 years, the countries that succeed to cut their emissions are those where renewable energy replaces fossil energy," energy expert and University of East Anglia professor Corinne Le Quéré told BBC News. "What seems to be happening now is that we have a massive deployment of renewable energy, which is good for tackling climate change, but this is occurring alongside massive investments in coal and gas. Stimulus spending post-Covid-19 worldwide is still largely funding activities that lock us into high CO2 emissions for decades."
To address this issue, Birol called on the world leaders gathering for U.S. President Joe Biden's climate summit Thursday and Friday to pledge additional action before November's UN Climate Change Conference, according to AFP.
"Unless governments around the world move rapidly to start cutting emissions, we are likely to face an even worse situation in 2022," said Birol.
- Global Carbon Emissions Fall by Record 7% in 2020 - EcoWatch ›
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- Greta Thunberg Tells Congress Fossil Fuel Subsidies Must End ›
- IEA’s First 1.5°C Climate Model Rejects New Fossil Fuel Extraction ›
By Oliver Milman
Art Sullivan is considered something of a political heretic by other coal miners in south-western Pennsylvania, where a wave of support for Donald Trump based upon his flamboyant promises of a resurgence in coal helped propel the Republican to the U.S. presidency.
"Many of my coal miner friends voted for him," said Sullivan, who has spent 54 years as a coal miner and, more latterly, consultant to a struggling industry. "They were deceived. Trump had no plan, no concept of how to resurrect the coal industry. My friends were lied to."
Sullivan's friends may disagree with this assessment but the coal comeback promised by Trump in the 2016 election campaign has failed to materialize, with his first term studded with bankruptcies and closures of mines and coal-fired power plants.
There are now about 5,000 fewer miners than when Trump strode into the White House. The coronavirus pandemic has turbo-charged the decline – so far this year U.S. coal production has collapsed by more than 25% compared with the same period in 2019.
It has been a bruising few years rather than the glorious new dawn promised when Trump donned a miner's helmet, mimed digging coal and excoriated Barack Obama's "war on coal" on the campaign trail four years ago. One of Trump's first executive orders removed a ban on coal mining on federal land and dumped Obama's plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. "Come on, fellas," said Trump at the order's signing, where he was surrounded by beaming miners. "Basically, you know what this is? You know what it says, right? You're going back to work."
Such assurances were eagerly accepted by coal mining communities in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Kentucky who backed Trump and prepared for salvation. "When he came into office, it was like someone pulled their finger out of the dyke," said Thomas McLoughlin, a former mine inspector who trains new miners. "I was flooded with new mining students. It was overwhelming." McLoughlin said he would vote for the president again because Trump was the only candidate prepared to stand up for coal workers. "My business won't go under if he's re-elected," he added.
The Trump administration has set about weakening or scrapping a slew of environmental rules that bound the industry, such as requirements that new coal-fired power plants capture their carbon emissions and that coal firms do not release wastewater laced with dangerous pollutants, such as lead, selenium and arsenic, into rivers and streams.
Bob Murray, a major Trump donor and founder of the largest private coal company in the U.S., has boasted of an "action plan" he gave the administration to undo what he called "eight years of pure hell" under Obama. Much of Murray's three-and-a-half-page wishlist has been ticked off, including the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement. A particular prize was a weakening of Obama-era standards to reduce mercury pollution from coal plants, a rollback undertaken after Andrew Wheeler, a former lobbyist for Murray Energy, became administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.
"We are still feeling the effects of the damage from the Obama administration," said Jason Bostic, vice-president of the West Virginia Coal Association. "The social devastation in mining communities has been breathtaking. The support for Donald Trump is as strong if not stronger than in 2016. West Virginia is a Democratic state that has been dyed deep red because of the last administration."
But while Appalachia will largely stick with Trump in 2020, more coal capacity has been retired under Trump than during Obama's second term. "Coal's not back," as Cecil Roberts, president of the United Mine Workers of America, glumly conceded last year. "Nobody saved the coal industry."
Coal production fell so sharply last year that renewable energy such as solar and wind overtook it in electricity generation for the first time since at least 1885, the year Mark Twain published The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, America's first skyscraper was erected in Chicago and people were burning more wood than coal. Last year also saw Murray Energy file for bankruptcy, one of half a dozen coal companies to do so that year.
Cheap, abundant gas, retrieved via fracking, and the advance of renewables have been greater causes of coal's demise than any green regulation, experts say, rendering Trump's rollbacks simply environmentally destructive.
"The fall of coal is first and foremost a market story," said Daniel Kaffine, a University of Colorado economist who has researched the issue. "The days of coal supplying the majority of U.S. electricity production are not coming back." While metallurgical coal – needed for the making of steel – will hang on, the practice of burning thermal coal for energy is in "a death spiral," Kaffine said.
There are about 45,000 coal miners left in the U.S., half the number employed during Obama's first term. Plenty of political rhetoric surrounds a workforce that is actually quite small – there are double the number of flight attendants in the U.S. than coal miners, for example, and roughly the same number of chiropractors.
Whole communities sprang up around mining, however, meaning several dependent jobs are lost for each miner put out of work. The long decline of well-paying mining jobs, through machinery automation and now creeping obsolescence, has left deep scars in Appalachian towns now blighted by unemployment and opioid addiction.
"People drank Trump's Kool-Aid and he hasn't done it for them," said Blair Zimmerman, a former coal miner who is now commissioner of Greene county, Pennsylvania. "I'm very worried about the future because without mining, our tax base would go and we couldn't survive. People are leaving the area, it's tough. We should have looked at other options a long time ago."
Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, has outlined a $2tn plan to generate millions of jobs in renewable energy, potentially providing a new path for threatened coal workers. But coal mining has deep roots in communities that many are unwilling to relinquish. "It's a damned joke," said Bostic, of the West Virginia Coal Association. "It's an affront to a coal miner to say: 'We will take your job away for one that pays less well, and by the way, you have to pack your family up and move.'"
According to Sullivan, coal miners feel they have little choice. "The coal miner had no friends and was desperate," he said. "No one was speaking for us and then Trump was, so people backed him. Miners see him as their guy."
The externalities of coal reach far beyond mining communities, however. As the most carbon-intensive of fuels, coal is a key driver of the climate crisis, indirectly spurring the sorts of huge wildfires that have ravaged the U.S. west coast this year, as well as the continuing deterioration of the polar ice sheets that imperil coastal cities through sea level rise and storms.
Direct air pollution from the soot and chemicals given off by burned coal is also a major health burden. Not far from Sullivan and his friends, the Cheswick power plant, close to the banks of the Allegheny River, is close enough to people's homes that nearby residents have to wipe the coal soot from their houses. Five miles downstream towards Pittsburgh, in the suburb of Verona, Laura Jacko suspects emissions from the power plant could be behind her husband's asthma and the breathing problems suffered by her son, who was born prematurely.
"There is nothing more horrifying than holding down your small baby to shove a breathing machine into them," Jacko said. "It affects me personally and I get pretty angry about it."
Environmental groups have long pushed for the closure of Cheswick, which has previously been handed a civil penalty for breaching pollution limits. In Jacko's view, the era of coal needs to come to a managed but swift end. "My uncle was a coal worker and had black lung," a disease that develops from inhaling coal dust, she said. "I don't want their jobs to kill them. I want them to transition. These jobs are going away, it's just a matter of when. Pushing ahead with coal does everyone a disservice."
This story originally appeared in The Guardian and is republished here as part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.
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By Mark McCord
- An academic paper suggests key tipping points can significantly reduce carbon emissions, which would help to slow global warming.
- Government policies are making coal uneconomical.
- Electric vehicle pricing structures have helped reduce the number of petrol and diesel cars on the world's roads.
There may be light at the end of the tunnel in the battle to reduce carbon emissions.
Governments and institutions could help halt carbon emissions with just a few carefully selected policy measures, according to a new paper, which looked at the experience of the energy industry and changing trends in road vehicle purchases.
If chosen properly and applied internationally, such "tipping points" could set off a series of other changes that snowball into a movement with enough critical mass to slow global warming and reduce natural disasters.
The paper, published in the journal Climate Policy, argues that actions taken within each industry created a cascade of further developments that helped reduce their carbon footprints.
"In complex systems – including human societies – tipping points can occur, in which a small perturbation transforms a system," wrote the paper's authors, Professor Tim Lenton, director of the Global Systems Institute (GSI) at the University of Exeter and Simon Sharpe, a deputy director in the UK Cabinet Office 26th session of the Conference of Parties (COP 26) unit.
"Crucially, activating one tipping point can increase the likelihood of triggering another at a larger scale, and so on."
Towards the Paris Agreement Targets
Such tipping points are hoped to help the world meet the targets of the 2015 Paris Agreement, in which 196 heads of state agreed to reduce global warming to within 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, with a preferred target of 1.5 degrees. Were they achieved, experts say the positive impacts would be felt within two decades.
The accord strives for a climate-neutral world by the middle of this century. It's expected to be built upon at the United Nations Climate Change conference, or COP26, which is due to take place in November. The World Economic Forum's Climate Initiative strives also to offer globally linked solutions.
The report in Climate Policy explains how a combination of factors led to the tipping point that prompted the UK to decarbonize its power industry. They included the creation of a carbon tax, an EU scheme that made gas cheaper than coal and an investment strategy for renewable energy that made coal less economical.
"The power sector needs to decarbonize four times faster than its current rate, and the pace of the transition to zero-emission vehicles needs to double," Lenton said.
"Many people are questioning whether this is achievable. But hope lies in the way that tipping points can spark rapid change through complex systems."
Wind and solar accounted for a third of the UK's energy generation in 2020. Statista
Positive Tipping Points
Besides the UK, the authors of the paper cited Norway as an example of the nations that have acted to reduce greenhouse gases pumped out by motor vehicles.
Through government incentives, new electric vehicles (EV) in Norway are priced similarly to petrol and diesel cars. This has boosted sales of EVs to more than 50% of new car purchases, compared with 2%-3% worldwide.
China, the European Union (EU) and California are responsible for half of global car sales. Professor Lenton suggests that if they formed an international effort to redirect investment from conventional cars to EVs they could reduce costs, boost production and create a broader tipping point that would accelerate the reduction of fossil fuel use.
Lenton argues that if government action can lower the cost of financing renewables to below that of excavating coal, industries linked to transport, heating and power could all rapidly decarbonize.
That's good news because a new, more urgent, approach is needed to reduce the rate at which the global climate is warming, according to scientists.
2020 and 2016 Hottest Years on Record
Earlier this month, the EU's Copernicus Climate Change Service said 2020 had equaled 2016 as the hottest year on record.
A study published in Climate Dynamics said the planet could breach the threshold for global warming between 2027 and 2042, a decade earlier than previously thought.
"If either of these efforts – in power or road transport – succeed, the most important effect could be to tip perceptions of the potential for international cooperation to tackle climate change," Lenton said.
Reposted with permission from the World Economic Forum.
The company tried twice to request a search order known as an Anton Piller order to enter the home of activist Benjamin Pennings, maintaining that he had access to confidential documents that only company higher ups should possess, Australia's ABC News reported Wednesday.
"My wife and I have three school-aged children living at home, one with a disability," Pennings said in a statement reported by ABC News. "Adani has failed in two recent Supreme Court applications to raid our family home for corporate secrets they believe I possess. They want to silence dissent about their destructive thermal coal project that a majority of Australians oppose."
The next step in their leaked ‘Trained Attack Dog’ legal strategy 👇🏼 is approx. 1500 pages of legal documents serve… https://t.co/fixsKbEJE3— Ben Pennings (@Ben Pennings)1598500738.0
Adani's mine is controversial in part because it would open up the area, a currently untapped coal reserve, for eight other mines, according to another activist group Stop Adani. Adani's mine alone would add 4.6 billion tonnes (approximately 5 billion U.S. tons) of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere at a time when Australia is already suffering from bushfires and flooding made worse by the climate crisis.
Adani's attempts to search Pennings' home were intended to bolster a civil case the company served against the activist on Wednesday, The Guardian reported.
Adani is suing Pennings for financial losses, intimidation, conspiracy and court costs. They claim activist pressure prompted contractors Downer EDI, AECOM and Greyhound Australia to drop their support of the mine.
Adani also wants Pennings to stop promoting the "Dob in Adani" campaign, which solicits information on Adani's contractors and their activities, ABC News reported.
Ahead of the suit, the company and its Carmichael Rail Network applied for the Anton Piller order to prove Pennings had "confidential information on a computer at his home" that only company executives should have had access to. Anton Piller orders are used to secure evidence from defendants for legal proceedings.
Adani and Charmichael first applied for the order in June and then appealed the court's initial rejection in July.
In rejecting the appeal, the court ruled that the company did not have enough evidence to justify a search that could cause undue harm to Pennings and his family.
"Surely, to permit a search of a defendant's house, with the humiliation and family distress which that might involve, lies at the outer boundary of the discretion," the Court of Appeal judges ruled last week, as ABC News reported. "This is because, for reasons that anyone can understand, the 'shock, anger, confusion' and the 'sense of violation and powerlessness' will be much greater in such a case and may be suffered not only by someone who is proved in due course to be a wrongdoer, but by entirely innocent parties as well."
Adani maintained that, in pursuing legal action against Pennings, it was not seeking to restrict free speech.
"We really believe that everyone has the right to express their own opinion, we support that. It's a core part of democracy," Adani in Australia communications lead Kate Campbell told ABC News. "But we think it's important that people express their opinions in a way that's legal, that's safe and that does not prevent others from going about their legal and legitimate business. Mr. Pennings is preventing us from going about our business because of the campaign of intimidation and harassment."
However, Australia's former Greens leader Bob Brown disagreed.
He said Adani's legal action would "send a shudder through every Australian who values democracy, free speech and the right to peaceful protest," The Guardian reported.
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By Kenny Stancil
While President Joe Biden's top climate envoy John Kerry told world leaders at a virtual climate summit that the U.S. will fulfill its commitment to provide financial support to developing countries as they grapple with the deadly consequences of a warming planet, campaigners are urging the U.S. to follow the lead of European Union officials who on Monday pledged to stop subsidizing fossil fuels and instead invest in a just transition toward clean energy.
"Ending government support for fossil fuels is a no-brainer," Laurie van der Burg of Oil Change International said Monday in a statement responding to the EU's newly stated commitment to phasing out dirty energy subsidies and helping to fund a global push toward renewable energy. "Globally, governments are still propping up fossil fuels with huge sums of public money, behavior that is incompatible with keeping global warming below 1.5ºC."
Oil Change International's Collin Rees said that "today's commitment by the EU to end overseas investment in oil, gas, and coal projects is yet another indication that the fossil fuel era is over. As a new administration takes power in Washington, this is a powerful signal that clean energy is ascendant and that the EU stands willing to work with President Biden and others to end all finance for dirty energy."
Noting that Biden "has committed to end fossil fuel subsidies and dirty energy finance," van der Burg pointed out that the UK in December "announced an end to their overseas public finance for fossil fuel."
According to van der Burg, "This creates a powerful opportunity for the EU, UK, and U.S. to collaborate to finally end government-backed finance for oil, gas, and coal ahead of the UK-hosted UN climate summit in November."
Rees argued that "Biden should act boldly on his campaign commitments to end finance for dirty energy projects."
"By building on past commitments to end coal finance and extending this to oil and gas," Rees added, "Biden can join the EU and UK in transforming international finance to address the challenges of the next century, not prop up the remnants of the last century's infrastructure."
Speaking at the Netherlands-hosted Climate Adaptation Summit just days after Biden issued an executive order re-entering the 2015 Paris agreement — the emissions reduction treaty the country had abandoned under former President Donald Trump — Kerry said the U.S. "was 'proud to be back' in the global climate discussion," Reuters reported Monday.
"We intend to make good on our climate finance pledge," Kerry said. According to Reuters, the U.S. "has delivered only $1 billion of the $3 billion it pledged under former President Barack Obama to the UN Green Climate Fund, set up to help vulnerable countries transition to clean energy and adapt to a warmer future."
Three billion dollars is a tiny fraction of what impoverished countries will need to shield their populations from the risks of heatwaves, droughts, fires, floods, and other disasters that have intensified as a result of global warming.
According to a UN report published earlier this month, developing countries alone will need to spend roughly $70 billion per year to combat the climate crisis, and those annual costs could surge to $140 billion to $300 billion by 2030 and $280 billion to $500 billion by 2050.
Kerry said the Biden administration "also intends to make significant investments in climate action" in the U.S. and abroad, Reuters reported. "He did not give details about those investments, but promised Washington would soon announce a new target for reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions that 'meets the urgency of the challenge.'"
Given that the world's most vulnerable people who have done the least to contribute to the climate emergency are likely to bear the brunt of the damage unless drastic steps are taken to transform society, as well as the disproportionate role played by rich nations — and especially the wealthy classes within them — in causing the crisis, climate justice advocates have called on affluent countries that are capable of doing more to step up.
Van der Burg emphasized the importance of wealthy nations taking action domestically — not just in the international arena of climate finance — to drastically reduce emissions and address the root causes of climate disruption.
Although referring specifically to the EU, her message applies as well to the UK and the U.S.: "For effective diplomacy on this issue, the EU must take action at home, and close loopholes for continued EU support for fossil fuels, including for gas," she said. "For the EU to lead this agenda at the international level, it must set the right example and phase out all government support for fossil fuels."
In a letter to Kerry and other world leaders ahead of Monday's climate summit, a group of 3,000 scientists warned that if governments fail to adequately invest in climate change mitigation and adaptation now, "the results will be increasing poverty, water shortages, agricultural losses, and soaring levels of migration with an enormous toll on human life."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
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Along the banks of the Mississippi River, right before it spills out past New Orleans into the sea lies Cancer Alley. An 85 mile strip of shoreline where residents are contracting cancer at astronomical rates. But this isn't a phenomenon based in genetics or some cruel twist of fate. Cancer Alley is the product of environmental pollution. And today we're going to figure out exactly where this pollution is coming from. This is the story of plastics, the harm they cause, the industries that create them, and how that 85 mile strip of Mississippi shoreline and other areas like it are suffering because of them.
If you walk into your kitchen, pretty much everything, in some way or another, has encountered plastic. The plastic bags you stuff into a drawer, your favorite cup and even the package keeping those blueberries fresh. But despite plastic's ubiquity, we often forget where it comes from. Indeed, when it comes to plastic our efforts seem to be much more focused on what happens after we use it than before we use it. So first, let's understand how plastic gets made. It all starts in an oil refinery or a fracking site. That's right, plastics are basically just fossil fuels in solid form. In fact, 99% of plastics are made from chemicals rooted in fossil fuels. The plastic creation process begins with crude oil, coal, or natural gas, which is then refined and distilled or "cracked" into usable chemical compounds such as Ethylene or Benzene. Of course there are certain plastics that are the product of recycled goods, but I'll get into that much more in the video above. The key thing here is that the plastic that we use so heavily is really the same as the petroleum we put in our cars or the natural gas we use to heat our homes. Which is one of the reasons why the fossil fuel industry loves plastics.
For more on fossil fuel's love affair with plastics check out the video above!
Our Changing Climate is an environmental YouTube channel that explores the intersections of social, political, climatic, and food-based issues. The channel dives into topics like zero waste and nuclear energy in order to understand how to effectively tackle climate change and environmental destruction.
To receive all the latest videos produced by Charlie subscribe to his YouTube channel here.
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Dangerously high temperatures are gripping the West with more to life- and grid-threatening heat expected in the coming days.
Phoenix hit at least 113°F over the weekend and temperatures from the Southwest to Northern Rockies are forecast to be 15-25°F above average. Texas officials are already asking customers to conserve electricity as the extreme heat, combined with multiple gas and coal plants broken down and offline for repairs, have created an unusual early electricity shortfall just months after widespread blackouts lead to hundreds of deaths across the state.
Climate change makes extreme heat and heat waves longer, more frequent, and more intense. Combined with the current climate-fueled megadrought, wildfire danger is also exceptionally high. Nearly 40 million people as far north as the Canadian Border could see triple-digit highs this week, and some parts of Arizona, including Phoenix, could see overnight lows in the 90s, which are often more dangerous because the human body is deprived of its nocturnal cool-down period and and cooling shelters for those without air-conditioners are closed. The heat will also be especially deadly for those who work outside, like farmworkers, and cannot escape the heat without risking loss of income.
As reported by Earther:
Extreme heat is becoming all the more common due to the climate crisis. It isn't just uncomfortable, it can also be deadly. Research shows that high temperatures are the deadliest form of extreme weather on the planet due to increased threat of conditions like heat stress, heatstroke, and cardiovascular and respiratory disease. Older people are especially at risk, and the National Weather Service underscored that in its warnings this week referring to the heat as "DEADLY" in all caps.
⚠️Dangerous Heatwave!⚠️ Extreme heat arrives soon & will last several days. Many places are under an Excessive Hea… https://t.co/fYIdKsl1lx— NWS Las Vegas (@NWS Las Vegas)1623500080.0
For a deeper dive:
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