In today’s edition, a new warning on biofuels: for environmentalists, turning plant matter into liquid fuel or electricity is totally inefficient. Also, a Senate initiative to strip President Obama of the decision-making authority over Keystone XL pipeline could come to a  vote today, while a federal appeals court agreed to hear arguments in a pair of cases challenging the Obama administration’s climate rule proposal for power plants.

Quote of the day

“I would say that many of the claims for biofuels have been dramatically exaggerated. There are other, more effective routes to get to a low-carbon world.

Andrew Steer, president of the World Resources Institute, a global research organization based in Washington that is publishing the report, in the New York Times’ story New Report Urges Western Governments to Reconsider Reliance on Biofuels

Lead stories 

New Report Urges Western Governments to Reconsider Reliance on Biofuels
By Justin Gillis – The New York Times
Western governments have made a wrong turn in energy policy by supporting the large-scale conversion of plants into fuel and should reconsider that strategy, according to a new report from a prominent environmental think tank. 
***LB: Also in this story “Turning plant matter into liquid fuel or electricity is so inefficient that the approach is unlikely ever to supply a substantial fraction of global energy demand, the report found. It added that continuing to pursue this strategy — which has already led to billions of dollars of investment — is likely to use up vast tracts of fertile land that could be devoted to helping feed the world’s growing population.”

Low oil prices won’t hurt renewable energy, says US EIA
By Suzanne Goldenberg – The Guardian 
Cheap oil is not about to kill off wind and solar power as some experts have claimed, the US government’s chief energy analyst said on Wednesday.

House panel agrees to prioritize climate change
By Timothy Cama – The Hill
The Republican-led House Natural Resources Committee agreed to put climate change on its agenda over the next two years.

Court battle set for Obama climate rule
By Timothy Cama – The Hill
A federal appeals court has agreed to hear arguments in a pair of cases challenging the Obama administration’s climate rule proposal for power plants.

Senate may vote Thursday on Keystone XL approval bill
By Paul Koring – The Globe and Mail
Slowed as the Senate grappled with dozens of proposed amendments, the bill to strip President Barack Obama of the decision-making authority over Keystone XL pipeline slowly moved Wednesday towards a final vote. That vote could come Thursday.

Rhetoric on EPA, Climate Show Divisions Among Republican Presidential Hopefuls 
By Anthony Adragna – Bloomberg News
One likely Republican presidential candidate called the Environmental Protection Agency “locusts” while another compared climate change to a “sunburn,” exposing a contrast with several other likely contenders within the party who recently acknowledged the role of human activity in climate change.

British belief in climate change at highest level in past decade – survey
By Fiona Harvey – The Guardian
Britons are more likely to agree the climate is changing than at any time in the past decade, with nearly nine in 10 people saying climate change is happening and 84% attributing this somewhat or entirely to human activity, new research has found. Two-thirds say they are concerned by global warming.


2015 Climate Leadership Conference
ACCO, EPA, The Climate Registry, C2ES
February 23-25, 2015
Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City (Arlington, VA) 


California Engages in Mature Debate Over Spending of Cap-and-Trade Funds
By Josh Stephens – California Planning and Development Report 
As the inane “debate” over climate change drags on in the more benighted corners of our republic (Washington, D.C., included), it’s becoming abundantly clear that California is no longer the place where America’s fruits, nuts, and loose ends come to rest.

US: Offset demand rising after invalidation – market sources 
Offset demand is continuing to grow in 2015 after seeing steady demand in the final few months of last year, but the market is shifting to credits with at least some level of protection following the invalidation of nearly 89,000 credits, market sources said.

South Korea’s Emissions Trading System
On January 1, 2015, South Korea launched an emissions trading system that covers roughly two-thirds of the country’s emissions. Emissions trading is a key policy toward meeting South Korea’s target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent below business as usual levels by 2020.

Industry sets out carbon capture wish list
By Will Nichols – BusinessGreen
The UK and other North Sea nations are capable of delivering a carbon capture and storage (CCS) industry that will prove essential to the future of numerous industrial sectors, according to a new industry-backed report.

Natural gas / coal 

Scotland announces moratorium on fracking for shale gas
By Libby Brooks – The Guardian 
The Scottish government has announced a moratorium on all planning consents for unconventional oil and gas extraction, including fracking.

Lancashire council defers Cuadrilla fracking decision
By Damian Carrington – The Guardian 
Planning decisions on the UK’s full scale fracking have been deferred for eight weeks by Lancashire county council (LCC), which was due to decide this week on two proposals from shale gas explorer Cuadrilla.

China coal production falls for first time this century
The impact of China’s clean air and renewable energy policies are beginning to have an impact on the country’s coal industry, according to reports suggesting domestic coal production fell last year.

Beijing smog makes city unliveable, says mayor 
By Jonathan Kaiman – The Guardian
Beijing’s mayor, Wang Anshun, has called the city “unliveable” because of its noxious smog, according to state media. 
***LB: Also in this story “In September 2013, China’s cabinet introduced a sweeping anti-pollution plan, which included prohibiting the construction of new coal-fired power plants in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, the country’s three most important cities.”

University Of Maine To Divest From Coal
By Robin Respaut – Reuters
The University of Maine Board of Trustees has unanimously agreed to divest from direct holdings in coal-mining companies. 


Mayor Boris mulls solar freakin’ roadways for London
By Jessica Shankleman – BusinessGreen
London Mayor Boris Johnson has revealed City Hall is seriously considering trialling new technology that allows roads to convert solar rays into electricity.


Brazil: Drastic Water Rationing May Be Put in Place in São Paulo
Associated Press 
The worst drought to hit São Paulo, Brazil’s biggest city, in decades may leave many residents with water service only two days a week. São Paulo’s water utility company, Sabesp, says a five-days-off, two-days-on system would be a last-ditch effort to prevent the collapse of the Cantareira water system.

Australian fish moving south as climate changes, say researchers 
By Oliver Milman – The Guardian
Australian scientists have assessed how 35 common fish species are coping with climate change, finding that most have to deal with new conditions and many are moving towards polar waters to find suitable habitats.

High-Altitude Forests in the Himalayas Harder Hit by Droughts
By Jane Qiu – Scientific American
Forests at high-altitudes in the Himalayas and Tibetan Plateau are at risk of dying off or retreating downslope as a result of climate change, threatening the region’s rich biodiversity, researchers warn.


The Countries Most Likely To Survive Climate Change In One Infographic
By Matt Johnston and Erin Brodwin – Business Insider 
Climate change is real, and it’s coming. But we’re all going to be affected in different ways. How will your country fare?

China’s churlishness shows strength of US-India relations
By Victor Mallet – Financial Times
China’s churlish reaction to Barack Obama’s visit to New Delhi this week suggests that the US president and Narendra Modi, the Indian prime minister, are on to something important in their attempt to remake the geostrategic map of the world.

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