New Alarming Report on the State of the Arctic

This Tuesday, on December 11, 2018, at the same time that the 11iceCOP24 is about to conclude in Katowice, Poland, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (“NOAA”) released its annual international Arctic report card (the “Report”) reflecting on a range of land, ice, and ocean observations made throughout the Arctic during the 2018 calendar year. The Report includes a series of 14 essays prepared by more than 80 scientists from 12 countries and it underlines the changes that are continuing to occur in the Arctic environmental system in relation with climate change.

As the Report shows and as reported by the media, “the Arctic is experiencing the most unprecedented transition in human history”.

It is underlined that, in 2018, surface air temperatures in the Arctic continued to warm at roughly twice the rate compared to the rest of the world. It is also noted that the year 2018 was the second warmest year on record in the Arctic since 1900 (after 2016) and that Arctic air temperatures for the past five years (2014-18) have exceeded all previous records since 1900.

The Report further indicates that such continued warming of the Arctic in 2018 is an indicator of both regional and global climate change and a driver of broad Arctic environmental change. Scientists explains that atmospheric warming continued to drive broad, long-term trends in declining terrestrial snow cover, melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet and lake ice, increasing summertime Arctic river discharge, and the expansion and greening of Arctic tundra vegetation. Despite the growth of vegetation available for grazing land animals, herd populations of caribou and wild reindeer across the Arctic tundra have declined by nearly 50% over the last two decades.

895ARC18_Landfast_mahoney_Fig3According to the Report, the Arctic is no longer returning to the extensively frozen region of recent past decades—in 2018 Arctic sea ice remained thinner and covered less area than in the past. Also, Warming Arctic Ocean conditions are coinciding with an expansion of harmful algae species responsible for toxic algal blooms (which have been found in the tissues of Arctic clams, seals, walrus, and whales and other marine organisms).952ARC18_HABs_anderson_Fig2

NOAA concludes that “new and rapidly emerging threats are taking form and highlighting the level of uncertainty in the breadth of environmental change that is to come”.


IPCC special report leaves the world in dire straits

In response to an invitation from the Parties of the Paris Agreement (PA), and pursuant to the Article 2 efforts to limit temperature increases well below 2°C, the IPCC prepared a Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C (SR15), released Monday, 8 October, 2018.

Climate scientists sounded the alarm yet again, painting a dire picture of the future without immediate and drastic mitigation and adaptation measures worldwide.  High confidence statements made by the panel include:

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  • Human activities have caused approximately 1°C of global warming above pre-industrial levels
  • Current global warming trends reach at least 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052
  • Staying below the 1.5°C threshold will require a 45% reduction in GHG emissions from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching net-zero by 2050
  • Pathways to 1.5°C with limited or no overshoot will require removal of an additional 100-1000 GtCO2

Pathways of current nationally stated mitigation ambitions submitted under the PA will not limit global warming to 1.5°C.  Current pathways put us on target for 3°C by 2100, with continued warming afterwards.

The ENB Report summarizing SR15 was able to shine a light on the good that can come from responses to this special report (not to mention upholding the ambition intended with the PA).  SR15 shows that most of the 1.5°C pathways to avoid overshoot also help to achieve Sustainable Development Goals in critical areas like human health or energy access. Ambitious emission reductions can also prevent meeting critical ecosystem thresholds, such as the projected loss of 70-90% of warmer water coral reefs associated with 2°C.

Groups like the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) are intensifying their adaptive scientific support through a “fully-integrated, ‘seamless’ Earth-system approach to weather, climate, and water domains,” says Professor Pavel Kabat, Chief Scientist of the WMO.  This “seamless” approach allows leading climate scientists to use their advanced data assimilation and observation capabilities to deliver knowledge in support of human adaptations to regional environmental changes.  By addressing extreme climate and weather events through a holistic Earth-system approach, predictive tools will help enhance early warning systems and promote well being by giving the global community a greater chance to adapt to the inevitable hazardous events related to climate change.

WRI Graph

Success ultimately depends on international cooperation, which will hopefully be encouraged by the IPCC’s grim report and the looming PA Global Stocktake (GST) in 2023.  In the wake of devastating hurricanes, typhoons, and the SR15, it’s hard to ignore both the climate and leading climate scientists urging us to take deliberate, collective action to help create a more equitable and livable future for all of Earth’s inhabitants.

In Decision 1/CP.21, paragraph 20 decides to convene a “facilitative dialogue” among the Parties in 2018, to take stock in relation to progress towards the long-term goal referred to in Article 4 of the PA.  Later renamed the Talanoa Dialogue, these talks have set preparations into motion and are helping Parties gear up for the formal GST, with the aim of answering three key questions: Where are we? Where do we want to go? How will we get there?

Discussion about the implications of SR15 will be held at COP24, where round table discussions in the political phase of the dialogue will address the question, “how do we get there?”

It won’t be by continuing business as usual.

 


We are working on it!

Island in the oceanAttending COP23 as an observer is a privilege because you are able to attend international multilateral negotiations. You witness established alliances use their power as a block and observe the dynamics of side negotiations. In these international multilateral negotiations, delegates agonize over words and paragraphs. They set their lines in the sand early and often. All of it done with diplomatic speak and collegiality but sometimes some get close to stepping over the line. Most of all, it is a privilege because you get to see the world trying to solve a problem collectively. With all this privilege, there is no denying that at times, these negotiations are frustrating. On rare occasions, the frustration causes one to think that the process is not working.

In a conversation with a delegate, I asked whether he is experiencing such frustration. Stalled talks are particularly challenging for him because he is from a Small Island Developing States (SIDS), which the United Nations considers as vulnerable nations because of climate change effect.  SIDS are usually located in the paths of hurricanes, which are happening with more frequency and more force. In the summer of 2017, for the first time, this delegate’s country issued mandatory evacuations from one of the outlying islands because no available shelter was adequate against the wrath of the coming storm. In the aftermath, the island became uninhabitable.

Additionally, SIDS are very vulnerable to rising sea levels. If water levels continue to rise, the oceans will soon reclaim these islands. Their challenge is their reluctance to make these issues public. Because their economy is dependent on tourism, climate change effects will drive off tourists, which will hurt an already fragile economy.

To answer my question, the delegate simply smiled. Then he started looking around at the other delegates and asked how many countries are represented. I told him there are delegates from 170 countries. He asked what are they all doing here? I told him that they are working on climate change issues. He replied with an even bigger smile, “exactly!” and repeated shortly after– We are working on it.

It is true that the COP process is complicated. One is instantly overwhelmed by the structure. There are three processes contained within the COP (UNFCCC, Kyoto Protocol, and the Paris Agreement). Furthermore, each convention, protocol, or agreement has its own framework, and they sometimes intersect with each other. Having said that, the complexity of the process really lies in the magnitude of participants. At last count, there are one hundred and seventy countries that have ratified the Paris Agreement. These countries represent different needs, levels of development, levels of ability, and a different sense of urgency. Even with the common shared goal of limiting the increase in the Planet’s average temperature, the complexity is how to arrive at the desired results. In other words, who does what and who pays for what is the main source of difficulty at the COP negotiations, but…..

We are working on it!

 

Negotiation agenda


Al Gore’s Global Turning Point

OIMG_2260nce again, Former Vice President Al Gore made an impactful appearance at the COP. He forewarned the crowd that the first half of his presentation may be rather disheartening, but that the second half would bring to light the points we must truly focus on to move forward. Scientists and politicians alike have emphasized at COP23 that the world is facing some of the most frequent and devastating ‘natural’ disasters since the recordation of history. Gore stated that the UN has determined this time the “worst humanitarian crisis since 1945.”

While Gore remained upbeat and lighthearted with his inclusion of slides such as flooding in England having little effect on the operation of a local pub, or the presidential implications of a wildfire in Wyork-floodsashington having no effect on a game of golf: his speech was impassioned. He decried the subsidization of fossil fuels in comparison to renewable energy. And his voice nearly roared on the cost climate change has wrecked on the global economy. He stated that the amount is “unacceptable and cannot be maintained.”

But once his speech reached the dismal humanitarian crisis in Syria, he skillfully lightened the crowd’s mood with different countries’ initiatives to curb the negative impacts of climate change. He spoke of India’s commitment to introduce only electric cars in 2025; of Germany’s commitment to wind power; and the unilateral transition from coal and fossil fuels to renewable energy.

oregon wildfireGore emphasized that “we’re at a tipping point on a global basis.” The world can choose to move forward with clean initiatives, implementing the world’s commitment to the Paris Agreement; or we can sit in our big houses and tweet about it.


Farming for the Future: Climate Change and Food Security.

The United Nations weather agency recently announced that the past five years have been the hottest on record, with increasing evidence showing that this is man-made climate change. Thus, the urgency for solutions increases here at COP22 where the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is meeting to discuss and improve climate change goals. One way to mitigate climate change is to decrease GHG emissions. One way to do this, is to revise global farming techniques. Today at the “On-farm renewables and sustainable intensification to address climate change and food security” side event, several farming experts discussed opportunities to improve farming and food security. The experts discussed the use of sustainable intensification and renewable energy, co-benefits and trade-offs around land use, deforestation concerns, and exploration of funding options. Most notable was the conversation about sustainable intensification agriculture. Sustainable intensification is the optimization of all provisioning, regulating and supporting agricultural production process. Thus, sustainable intensification projects for agriculture help maintain and enhance production through the promotion of biodiversity and ecosystem services.

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The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nation (FAO) has several new programs to improve sustainable intensification. “LIBERATION: Linking Farmland Biodiversity to Ecosystem Services for Effective Ecofunctional Intensification,” which will help identify the relationship between semi-natural habitats and on-farm management and biodiversity. This project also seeks to connect farmland biodiversity to ecosystem services. It will do this by examining different strategies to mitigate ecosystem services. Another project, “Mainstreming Agro-biodiversity in Law PDR’s Agricultural Policies, Plans and Programmes (FSP),” which will provide farmers with the necessary incentives, capabilities and support institutional framework to converse agricultural biodiversity in Lao.

Intensification of crop and livestock production are also essential to mitigate climate change and provide food security. In order to keep up with demand for beef and leather, for example, 21 million ha of deforestation has occurred in the Brazilian Amazon between 2000 and 2015 to support cattle. Simon C. Hall, the manager of Tropical Forests and Agriculture National Wildlife Federation (NWF), spoke about insights from the Brazilian cattle sector. The NWF has been working in South America with local partners for over 20 years to eliminate tropical deforestation from agriculture supply chains. They hope to accelerate the development and implementation of intensification for sustainability because the implications of deforestation are staggering: longer dry season, reduced rainfall, increased temperature. Sustainable Intensification on the other hand (when coupled with zero deforestation commitments), will lead to: land sparing, reduced emissions from LUC, reduced losses of wildlife habitat and biodiversity, increased market access, preferential purchasing agreements, and reduced leakage and rebound effects.

These, and many other projects presented at this side event on addressing climate change through new farming techniques, provide examples on how we may work towards farming for a sustainable future.


March continues the warming trend

The US earth on fireNational Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced yesterday that last month was the 11th straight record warmth month, joining the longest warmth streak in 137 years. March 2016 also stands out for its variance from the 20th century average global temperature:  it was 2.2°F higher than the average over the last century. Gavin Schmidt, Director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, thinks we have a “99% chance of an annual record in 2016.”

NOAA began yesterday’s press release with “At the risk of sounding like a broken record, ….” All puns aside, concern is growing that this litany of broken records will lull the public into inaction about the “new normal.” Jason Furtado, a meteorology professor at the University of Oklahoma told AP “it’s becoming monotonous in a way. It’s absolutely disturbing … We’re losing critical elements of our climate system.”


February fever

Overheated ThermometerGlobal ​satellite temperature data indicates that February 2016 will enter the record books as the warmest ​above average month in recorded history.  Last month was likely somewhere between 1.15°C and 1.4°C warmer than average, making it the fifth straight month that global average temperatures surpassed 1°C above average. Some parts of the Arctic were 8°C above average, leading to the lowest February sea ice levels ever.

Exhibit A:  Alaska is so warm that Iditarod organizers are bringing rail cars of snow into Anchorage for the opening ceremony of the dog sled race. They will also shorten the normal 11-mile ceremonial circuit to only 3 miles. February 29 was the firstiditarod February day in recorded history without snow in Anchorage. Since December 1, 2015, Anchorage has received less than 8 inches of snow, compared to the more typical 60 inches. In the past, February has been the snowiest time of the year.


Are State INDC Mitigation Pledges Strong Enough?

 

UNEP

Today at COP21, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) hosted a joint presentation on the 2015 UNEP Emissions Gap Report. This sixth Emissions Gap Report was published in November 2015. The report assesses country mitigation commitments based off their submitted INDCs. Then it compares the resulting emission levels for 2030 with what scientific studies require in order for the world to be on track to stay within the maximum global temperature increase goal of 2°C. Many of the report’s authors attended the presentation and the official presenters of the report included:

Mr. Steiner explained that based on current INDCs, GHG emissions would decrease 25% by 2030. While this reduction shows progress, it is still not sufficient to achieve the goal of limiting the global temperature increase to 2°C by 2100. As the INDCs stand today, accounting for both conditional and unconditional mitigation pledges, the COP is 50% of the way to achieving a GHG reduction of 42 GtCO2e, the amount needed to stay within 2°C. The fact that current INDCs are halfway to their reduction goals indicates that significant further mitigation efforts are required. Mr. Steiner stressed that the Parties have not run out of time to reach their goal, but the longer they wait the less cost-effective and more difficult it becomes to successfully achieve these mitigation goals. Mitigation action over the next four years, or during the pre-2020 timeframe, is material to staying within the 2°C threshold. With each passing year, the risk of inequity grows exponentially between developed countries and countries most vulnerable to climate change; this inequity is unacceptable because many vulnerable State Parties are already paying a higher price as they suffer more and more extreme weather events caused by climate change.

The UNFCCC Director of Strategy, Mr. Thorgeirsson, furthered the discussion on INDCs with three interesting, and mostly optimistic, reflections. First, he explained that the 2°C and 1.5°C temperature goals, which are often called long-term goals, are not necessarily at odds with one another. According to Mr. Thorgeirsson, the 2°C limit would serve as “a guardrail or defense line,” meaning that at bare minimum Parties’ mitigation efforts would limit the global temperature increase to 2°C, but this guardrail would be supplemented with the aspirational goal of limiting the temperature increase to 1.5°C. Ultimately, Mr. Thorgersson believes the two temperature goals should converge to create a joint narrative.

In his second reflective thought, Mr. Thorgeirsson encouraged the audience to not be disheartened by the submitted INDCs because the mitigation commitments in these documents reflect current realities based on current technologies and political situations. Therefore as technologies and political situations evolve so will mitigation pledges.

Lastly, Mr. Thorgersoon declared that answering the question of whether the Parties are on the right track in their mitigation efforts is an impossible question to address. States across the globe are in the process of transitioning from a fossil-fuel economy to economies based on different assumptions. These new types of economies contain many unknown factors that make it difficult to definitively know the effect of the Party’s mitigation pledges.

Ms. Jacqueline McGlade, Chief Scientist for UNEP, was the final presenter of the 2015 UNEP Emissions Gap Report. In her presentation, Ms. McGlade explained that the UNEP report has been released in various stages in order to capture and present more accurate carbon emissions data as more Parties submit their INDCs to the UNFCCC. This drafting difficulty is an on-going dilemma. Ms. McGlade explained that over 40 INDCs have been submitted since the latest stage of the UNEP report was released. She then assured the crowd that after COP21 concluded she and her team would resume updating their study to reflect the new mitigation pledges.

Ms. McGlade concluded the presentation with a final call to action, explaining that under the current INDC mitigation pledges there is a 66% chance of the global temperature increasing 3-4°C by 2100. A temperature increase of 3-4°C would result in catastrophic effects, but with focus and action the 1.5-2°C goals can still be reached. The COP21 process has revealed an unprecedented level of engagement in addressing climate change as an international issue. This engagement is a promising indicator that the Parties’ are committed to successfully fulfilling their long-term mitigation goal of limiting the temperature increase to 1.5-2°C.


Realities of Hope: 1.5-2C Global Temperature Rise is within Striking Distance—But INDC Pledges are not Enough

CAT_thermometer_151001_300dpiSince the COP21 Opening Ceremony, various Parties have expressed a priority of curbing global temperature rise to below 2C. Many Parties, particularly LDCs and notably French President Hollande, advocate for a more ambitious 1.5C temperature increase. While the Opening Ceremony was full of hopeful statements—UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres, for example, described COP21 as a “beacon of hope for the world, lighting the way toward the betterment of humanity”—it is unclear whether the Parties will actually agree to maintaining the 2C increase, and even then what the cost will be for a less ambitious mitigation effort.

Leading up to COP21, 184 countries submitted 154 Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). These pledges account for around 94% of global greenhouse gas emissions from 2010. Yet, some sources say these pledges would be insufficient to limit warning to 2C or below. Instead, the INDCs might allow a 2.7—3.5C increase above pre-industrial levels.

The consequences of these varying temperature ranges appear to be quite devastating. Even the 2C benchmark typically considered a “safe” increase may be on the cusp of “dangerous” and “extremely” dangerous. The International Cryosphere Climate Initiative reports, “Reacting with ‘too little, too late’ may lock in the gradual but unavoidable transformation of our Earth…in a terrible legacy that may last a thousand years or more.”

Most world leaders promote a temperature limit of 1.5C. Manuel Augusto, current speaker for the LDC negotiation group and the Secretary of State for External Relations of Angola, advocates limiting global temperature rise to 1.5C.

FullSizeRender 5In Monday’s Global Environment Fund side event, former Irish president Mary Robinson discussed how various Parties up to that point had discussed climate injustice and the importance of a “people centered” approach to the Paris Package. Robinson explained that a global 2C increase actually means 4C in parts of Africa, and that 1.5C is an important part of a “people centered” agreement.

Also on Monday, 30 nations consisting of middle income, least developed and small island developing states issued a declaration expressing their desire for “full decarbonization of the world economy, 100% renewable energy by 2050, and zero emissions by mid-century in order to keep the world on track for below 1.5C warming.”

Scientists confirm that “limiting temperature rise by 1.5C is feasible;” however, “an increase of international efforts to curb greenhouse gases is imperative to keep the 1.5 degrees Celsius target achievable.” Thus, with science and political backing, it would not be impossible for Parties to agree to a 1.5C temperature increase target.

 

 


2015 on track to be the hottest year ever

Overheated ThermometerThe National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has determined that global heat records were broken in August, the entire summer, and the first eight months of 2015. Meteorologists say that it is almost certain that 2015 will surpass 2014 as the hottest year on record. So far this year, six months have broken records; January and April were the only ones that did not.  NOAA also reports that since 2000, global temperatures have broken monthly heat records 30 times and seasonal heat records 11 times.

Scientists attribute the record-breaking heat in 2015 to a combination of anthropogenic climate change and the El Nino effect, a warming of the equatorial Pacific Ocean that changes weather worldwide.  Deke Arndt of NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information explains that global warming is like the steady climbing of stairs and the El Nino “is like standing on your tippy toes” while climbing those stairs.


“Well, I’m not a scientist either, but . . .”

In his State of the Union address last night, President Obama picked up climate change deniers’ well-used “I’m not a scientist, but” phrase, and turned it on its head.

obama 2015 SoU“I’ve heard some folks try to dodge the evidence by saying they’re not scientists; that we don’t have enough information to act. Well, I’m not a scientist, either. But you know what — I know a lot of really good scientists at NASA, and NOAA, and at our major universities. The best scientists in the world are all telling us that our activities are changing the climate, and if we do not act forcefully, we’ll continue to see rising oceans, longer, hotter heat waves, dangerous droughts and floods, and massive disruptions that can trigger greater migration, conflict, and hunger around the globe. The Pentagon says that climate change poses immediate risks to our national security. We should act like it.”

The President’s nod to U.S. scientific bodies like NASA and NOAA is well timed.  In addition to their recent announcements about 2014’s record setting heat, a trove of academic studies have appeared in Nature and Science in just the last two weeks.  For example:

  • This paper in Nature reconciles gaps between models and observations of ocean levels since the 1990s and concludes that sea level rise is happening even more rapidly than thought. 
  • This paper in Science chronicles how global warming, ocean acidification, aquaculture, and miningNAS “pose extreme threats to ocean life,” and proposes creating ocean reserves and managing unprotected spaces akin to land conservation.
  • This paper in Science reports that climate change and species extinctions indicate the the planet is entering a “danger zone,” with human activity degrading the environment “at a rate unseen in the past 10,000 years.”
  • This briefing in the Proceedings of the Institute for Civil Engineering (ICE) warns that the West Antarctica ice sheet collapse will cause over 11 feet of sea level rise that will disproportionately affect North America.
  • The U.S. Global Change Research Program reports in this National Climate Assessment on the direct human health impacts of climate change, including increased disease and food insecurity.

In the non-academic realm,the World Economic Forum’s 2015 edition of its Global Risks Report ranks extreme weather, water crises, natural catastrophes, the failure to adapt to climate change, biodiversity loss, and ecosystem collapse among the Top 10 risks to human security.

With this data in hand, our non-scientist-in-chief stated last night:

“That’s why, over the past six years, we’ve done more than ever before to combat climate change, from the way we produce energy, to the way we use it. That’s why we’ve set aside more public lands and us-climate-change-300x225waters than any administration in history. And that’s why I will not let this Congress endanger the health of our children by turning back the clock on our efforts. I am determined to make sure American leadership drives international action. In Beijing, we made an historic announcement — the United States will double the pace at which we cut carbon pollution, and China committed, for the first time, to limiting their emissions. And because the world’s two largest economies came together, other nations are now stepping up, and offering hope that, this year, the world will finally reach an agreement to protect the one planet we’ve got.”

UPDATE: On Wednesday, January 21, 2015, the U.S. Senate voted 98-1 on a Keystone XL bill amendment declaring that climate change is real and not a hoax.  That’s the good news on congressional understanding of the climate change science.  The bad news?  The failure of a second amendment acknowledging the human causes of it – specifically, that “climate change is real and human activity significantly contributes to climate change” – because the causation language of “significantly” troubled many Republicans.  Despite the good work of “a lot of really good scientists” at NOAA, NASA, and the inhofeIPCC (and despite the five Republicans, Lindsay Graham,Kelly Ayotte, Susan Collins, Mark Kirk, and Lamar Alexander, who voted for it).  Oh, and one more tally in the two-steps-backward column: Sen. James Inhofe signed on as a co-sponsor to that first amendment, saying for the record that “climate has always changed” and that it’s “arrogant” to think humankind can change climate. Sigh. Nonetheless Vermont’s Senator Bernie Sanders called the climate change votes “a step forward” for Republicans: “I think what is exciting is that today we saw for the first time – a number, a minority – but some Republicans going onboard and saying that climate change is real and it’s caused by human activity.” For more, read here.

 


For the climate change record book

According to a variety of news sources, several important records were broken in 2014.

2014 hottest year graphHottest year on record.  The Japan Meteorological Association (JMA) reports that 2014 was 0.27°C warmer than the average from 1981 to 2010, and 0.63°C warmer than the 20th century average. NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the US, and the UK Met Office, also keep track of these climate stats and confirm the JMA’s conclusion.  NOAA just reported that 2014 was 0.5°F above normal, making it the 34th-warmest year for the continental U.S.  As Climate Central titled this news, “the U.S. hot streak is now officially old enough to vote for president as 2014 makes it 18 years of temperatures above the 20th century average.”

As the NYT described it: “Last year was the hottest on earth since record-keeping began in 1880, scientists reported on Friday, underscoring warnings about the risks of runaway greenhouse gas emissions and undermining claims by climate change contrarians that global warming had somehow stopped. Extreme heat blanketed Alaska and much of the western United States last year. Records were set across large areas of every inhabited continent. And the ocean surface was unusually warm virtually everywhere except near Antarctica, the scientists said, providing the energy that fueled damaging Pacific storms.In the annals of climatology, 2014 surpassed 2010 as the warmest year.”

Wind energy increases. Britain’s wind turbines generated enough electricity to power more than 25% of its homes, up 15% from 2013 (comprising 9.3% of the total grid). Germany’s wind power generated more in December than in any previous month.

solar recordsNew solar energy too.  Globally, utility-scale solar installations increased for a fifth, consecutive year. Solar markets in South America and Africa had notable growth, but the largest shares remained in Asia and North America.

Coal demand in China declines.  Chinese coal consumption dropped by around 2.3% in the first eleven months of 2014, compared to the same period in 2013 (and 9% average annual growth between 2000 and 2010). Notably, electricity growth in China has slowed to around half the pace of its economic growth, indicating success at energy efficiency and a transition to less electricity-intensive industrial sectors.