Climate Change - Global Problem, National Stagnation, Local Impacts (December 2017)

Monday, December 04, 2017 3:35 PM | Alison Clift (Administrator)

On the International Stage: In early November, the United States became the only country unwilling to participate in the Paris Climate Agreement, after Syria pledged to join. At the U.N. climate summit in Bonn, Germany, the official U.S. formal delegation declined to participate except to speak about the role clean coal, natural gas, and nuclear energy will play in reducing future carbon emissions. A second U.S. delegation of businesses, governors, and mayors of major cities also attended and described their plans to meet the U.S. Paris Agreement target of 26-28% reduction on their own. Fourteen states have joined the U.S. Climate Alliance (USCA) as a commitment to uphold the Paris Agreement on their own. Other states and cities have pledged support for the Paris Agreement but have not joined the USCA. 

After three years of stable world carbon emissions, 2017 levels are expected to rise by 2%. While emissions from European countries and the U.S. are expected to be lower than previous years, emissions from the rest of the world, especially China and India, are expected to be higher. 

On the National Stage: On October 10, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to repeal the Clean Power Plan. The EPA held its only scheduled public meetings on November 28 and 29 in Charleston, West Virginia – coal country! Written public comments will be accepted until January 16, 2018. 

In our August newsletter, we wrote about the leaked Climate Science Special Report draft. Thirteen Federal Agencies released the final version in November, which is Volume I of the Fourth National Climate Assessment. Climate Change Impacts, Risks and Adaptation in the United States is Volume II of the Fourth National Climate Assessment and is scheduled for release in late 2018. Volume II will analyze the impacts to the nation’s resources (forests, freshwater, saltwater, soil, air, etc.), sectors (energy, transportation, infrastructure, health, etc.), and systems. Volume II will also provide regional analyses, risk assessment, and impact responses and adaptations. The public comment period for Volume II is open until January 31, 2018. A related report, Second State of the Carbon Cycle Report, reviews U.S. and North American carbon sources and sinks and their respective impacts to global carbon amounts and managed and unmanaged systems. The Second State of the Carbon Cycle Report is also available for public comment until January 8, 2018. 

On the State Stage: Maine is already starting to show signs of climate change:

  • Warmer falls and winters are allowing ticks to stay active longer, reducing the moose population and increasing human cases of tick-borne diseases, such as Lyme and anaplasmosis.
  • Some invasive forest pests, like the hemlock woolly adelgid, were contained by Maine’s colder winters but are now expanding their range. 
  • The Gulf of Maine is getting warmer and more acidic, impacting shellfish larvae habitat and shell development, reducing suitable groundfish habitat, and becoming more hospitable for non-native species. 
  • Over a 100-year period, sea level has increased by 0.6 feet in the Portland area, while Eastport’s sea level has increased by 0.7 feet. 
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