NYC community gardens may wither under Trump’s proposed budget cuts

April 3, 2017 by  
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President Donald Trump’s proposed budget cuts could mean the kiss of death for New York City’s community gardens . More than 500 of the communal spaces across all five boroughs depend on a program called GreenThumb , which is administered by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation . Initiated in the wake of the 1970s fiscal crisis, which resulted in the widespread abandonment of both private and public land, GreenThumb has turned hundreds of derelict lots into tillage. Most of its funding comes from federal Community Development Block Grants—the same ones the budget blueprint seeks to eliminate. Should the budget pass, GreenThumb risks losing $1 million a year out of a $2.4 million budget, according to WNYC . Related: Detroit nonprofit seeks crowdfunding for new East Side community garden “It would be devastating to GreenThumb, it would mean laying off a dozen workers or more, and it would be less money for supplies, for bulbs, for tools,” said New York City Councilman Mark Levine, who chairs the city’s Parks and Recreation Committee. Levine, WNYC adds, is working on securing more money for community gardens, as well as the restoration of jobs for 150 Parks department gardeners and maintenance workers. Via WNYC Photos by Unsplash

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NYC community gardens may wither under Trump’s proposed budget cuts

ExxonMobil exhorts White House to keep Paris agreement

March 31, 2017 by  
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When a fossil fuel company under fire for covering up past knowledge of climate change exhorts the President of the United States to stay in the 2015 Paris agreement , something’s not quite right. ExxonMobil manager of environmental policy and planning Peter Trelenberg wrote a letter to the White House earlier this month reiterating ExxonMobil’s position on the deal. He made it clear ExxonMobil thinks President Donald Trump should not pull out of the historic, hard-fought agreement. On the campaign trail Trump promised to yank the United States out of the Paris agreement. But so far the White House hasn’t taken that step, even in a recent environmentally devastating executive order . Meanwhile Trump’s new Secretary of State, former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson , has said in the past the president is wrong about climate change , and perhaps could have now persuaded Trump to stick with the deal. Related: Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson says Trump is wrong about climate change On March 22, Trelenberg wrote to G. David Banks, Special Assistant to the President for International Energy and Environment, thanking Banks for a recent inquiry on the oil and gas giant’s views regarding the agreement. Trelenberg said ExxonMobil welcomed the agreement both in December 2015, when it was announced at COP21 , and in November 2016 when it went into force. Don’t get too excited – Trelenberg didn’t write off fossil fuels altogether. He said, “We believe that the United States is well positioned to compete within the framework of the Paris Agreement, with abundant low-carbon resources such as natural gas , and innovative private industries, including the oil, gas, and petrochemical sectors.” Trelenberg said natural gas is the “cleanest-burning and least carbon-intensive fossil fuel” that has helped American attain 20-year lows in carbon dioxide emissions . He did point out ExxonMobil has invested $7 billion in lower emission fuels – such as biofuels made from algae – for around 15 years, and ended his letter with a final call to stay in the Paris agreement. The irony of the ExxonMobil letter prompted Senator Bernie Sanders to tweet : “It is pathetic that the largest oil company in the world understands more about climate change than the president of the United States.” Via The Independent Images via Roy Luck on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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ExxonMobil exhorts White House to keep Paris agreement

China calls America selfish amid Trump attempt to revive coal

March 30, 2017 by  
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China is uneasy leading the way on climate action without the help of the United States, according to an editorial in Chinese state media. After President Donald Trump signed his executive order rolling back the Clean Power Plan this week, an article ran in the Global Times critical of Trump’s moves. The editorial said, “…what the US is doing undermines the other countries’ dedication to implement the Paris Agreement .” China relied on coal for development, but in recent years has made strides to build renewable energy plants and shut down coal mines . Even if they have a long way to go to fix pollution woes, one study showed their coal use likely peaked in 2014 . Meanwhile Trump has touted the return of coal against evidence of the growth of renewable energy and even the reality of climate change . Related: 75 American mayors affirm climate goals even after Trump executive order So it’s not too surprising Chinese media lambasted Trump in a March 30 editorial. “Some Western media now pin their hopes on China to fill the vacuum left by Washington in the fight against climate change. But no matter how hard Beijing tries, it won’t be able to take on all the responsibilities that Washington refuses to take…Washington’s political selfishness must be discouraged,” it said. The editorial pointed out China and the United States are the world’s biggest carbon dioxide emitters, but said China is still in the process of developing while America is a superpower with the technological edge to slash emissions . They said America’s attitudes will impact how people around the world approach the battle against climate change. Global Times also put the pressure on Western media and the public to pressure Trump, saying “American opinion has enabled the country’s political and legal authorities to freeze the president’s Muslim ban. If it keeps up the same vigor, the Trump administration may not be able to pull the US out of the Paris Agreement.” Via The Guardian and Global Times Images via Pixabay ( 1 , 2 )

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China calls America selfish amid Trump attempt to revive coal

London and Paris mayors announce new emissions monitoring system for vehicles

March 30, 2017 by  
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Just a day after U.S. President Donald Trump issued an executive order that aims to bring back smog-inducing coal power, the mayors of London and Paris are acting to cut air pollution in their cities. Reuters reports that Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo and London Mayor Sadiq Khan have announced a new system for monitoring vehicle emissions in their respective cities, with the aim of combating the air quality problems that have plagued both national capitals. Their plan would enable a system that identifies real-life emissions readings from cars, which would give people more information about how much theirs emit. Each car’s score for the air pollutants it puts out would be based on road and “real-world” testing using emissions analytics and the International Council for Clean Transportation . “We should be able to set up a reliable scoring system which will be put to all our citizens and allow them to know what emissions are coming from which vehicles in reality,” Hidalgo said at an international conference on air pollution, according to Reuters . “This new scheme will put an end to the ‘smoke and mirrors’ that has been employed and provide Londoners and Parisians with an honest, accurate and independent evaluation of the emissions of vehicles on our road,” Khan added. Related: California defies trump with tough emissions rules According to French media, emissions monitoring devices will be put in place on the streets of Paris and on various kinds of vehicles in the next few weeks. Seoul also plans to try the monitoring tactic to get a handle on air pollution in the South Korean capital. 9,000 people die per year in London, as a result of pollution. In Paris, about 2,500 die annually. The mayors intend to fix that. Via Reuters Images via dbakr and zongo , Flickr Creative Commons

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London and Paris mayors announce new emissions monitoring system for vehicles

Zaha Hadid’s Kushner tower reimagined as the Eye of Sauron

March 30, 2017 by  
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When the family of presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner and China’s Anbang Insurance Group announced plans to redevelop a Zaha Hadid -designed skyscraper at Manhattan’s 666 Fifth Avenue, just about everyone, from lawmakers to government ethicists, balked. Although the deal would have helped transform the Kushners’ struggling office-and-retail property into a 1,400-foot mixed-use tower with retail space, high-end condominiums, and an 11-story hotel, negotiations eventually buckled under public pressure. Still, we’ll always have the renderings—and the Photoshopped artwork, one of which reimagines the monolith-like edifice as Barad-dûr . Designed by Hadid before her death last year, the $7.5 billion project, renamed 660 Fifth Avenue, would have involved gutting the 60-year-old building to its steel bones and adding 40 or more floors. Anbang’s withdrawal from negotiations has thrown the future of the property into question, although a spokesman says that the Kushner Companies is in active discussions with other investors to keep the project on life support. @PeterGrantwsj Here's the final concept. pic.twitter.com/AOIe9YHH7F — Grok (@Groked) March 21, 2017 Related: Zaha Hadid’s Guangzhou Infinitus Plaza focuses on environmental sustainability Meanwhile, the Twittersphere has been having a field day with a rendering of the proposed citadel, with one adroit user Photoshopping it into the Tower of Sauron from the Lord of the Rings . Whether this is in reference to the Mark of the Beast, the Kushners’ Trump-adjacency, or the fact that the building is a mite four blocks south of Trump Tower , is up for debate. The Kushners purchased 666 Fifth Avenue on Jared’s birthday in January 2007 for $1.8 billion. Although Jared, who is married to First Daughter Ivanka Trump, divested his stake in the building after taking a job in the White House, he sold it to his family, raising not just concerns about Anbang’s links to the Chinese government but also conflicts of interest. In fact, five Democratic members of Congress wrote to a White House lawyer last week about the would-be deal, which they called “unusually favorable for the Kushners.” Anbang would have invested $400 million in the project, as well as taken out a $4 billion construction loan for renovations, according to reports. Via Artnet

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Zaha Hadid’s Kushner tower reimagined as the Eye of Sauron

Head of EPA Scott Pruitt calls Paris Climate Accord a "bad deal"

March 28, 2017 by  
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Don’t count on Scott Pruitt , head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency , to do much environmental protecting. Weeks after rejecting scientific consensus about the role of carbon dioxide in driving global warming, the nation’s top environmental official doubled down on Sunday by describing a landmark accord to curb the planet’s industrial emissions as a “bad deal” for the United States. “You know, what was wrong with Paris was not just that it was, you know, failed to be treated as a treaty, but China and India, the largest producers of CO2 internationally, got away scot-free. They didn’t have to take steps until 2030,” Pruitt said in an interview with ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos. “So we’ve penalized ourselves through lost jobs while China and India didn’t take steps to address the issue internationally. So Paris was just a bad deal, in my estimation.” There’s plenty to nitpick about Pruitt’s stance, which mischaracterizes the positions of China and India, both of which officially ratified the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change in late 2016. For one thing, China is the world’s No. 1 polluter, but India comes in fourth after the United States and European Union. Neither does the 2030 cutoff give China or India special latitude. All 197 countries that have committed themselves to the pact are legally bound to develop plans to curtail greenhouse-gas emissions through 2025 or 2030. And while there’s no legal requirement that specifies how much countries should cut, they must report every two years on their efforts to mitigate emissions levels, which are subject to technical and peer review. Related: EPA chief says carbon dioxide is not a ‘primary contributor’ to global warming Far from getting away “scot-free,” China and India are making inroads in their energy policies. Although it continues to be bogged down by inefficient coal power plants that contribute to its infamous smog, China has been expanding its renewable-energy capacity at a breakneck pace. Even as President Donald Trump decried climate change as a “Chinese hoax” , the Chinese government announced that it intends to spend more than $360 billion through 2020 on renewable power sources like solar and wind, slashing carbon emissions and creating over 13 million jobs in the renewable energy sector in the same time frame. India, in the meantime, has pledged to obtain at least 40 percent of its electricity from non-fossil-fuel sources by 2030. To nudge itself closer to that goal, the South Asian nation is planning 33 solar parks in 21 states, with a capacity of at least 500 megawatts each—no mean feat for a country where millions still have no access to electricity . Indeed India currently houses the world’s largest solar power plant in a single location , a title once held by Topaz Solar Farm in California. For anyone who has been paying attention, however, Pruitt’s statements shouldn’t be too surprising. The former attorney general of Oklahoma has long boasted close ties to the oil and gas industry. He also sued the EPA—the very same agency he now heads—a stunning 14 times , frequently in tandem with companies that donated money to campaigns he was affiliated to. Related: New EPA chief Scott Pruitt’s emails reveal troubling oil-industry ties Pruitt noted on Sunday that President Trump will soon be signing a new executive order that will halt the implementation of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan , an Obama administration policy designed to, among other things, rein in America’s greenhouse gas emissions by 32 percent by 2030. “With respect to this executive order that’s coming out on Tuesday, this is about making sure that we have a pro-growth and pro-environment approach to how we do regulation in this country,” Pruitt said. Pro-growth? Debatable. Pro-environment? Not a chance. + ABC News Via Huffington Post Photos from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

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Head of EPA Scott Pruitt calls Paris Climate Accord a "bad deal"

Trump’s new executive order to undo Obama climate action

March 28, 2017 by  
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President Donald Trump’s onslaught on the environment continues. He is set to sign a new executive order today that would undo the Clean Power Plan and slash the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget by one third. The White House claimed this move will boost job creation even as clean energy jobs swiftly outpace fossil fuel jobs . Trump could cancel some of Barack Obama’s actions on climate change with his executive order, which could tell federal regulators to rewrite rules aimed at curbing carbon emissions and lift a federal coal leasing moratorium. Trump has claimed some of these rules, which have placed restrictions on the fossil fuel industry, hurt the economy, and the White House said his steps would “help keep energy and electricity affordable, reliable, and clean in order to boost economic growth and job creation.” Never mind that renewable energy prices have been falling , or that burning fossil fuels pumps greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Related: Trump to purge climate change from federal government The Washington Post quoted an anonymous senior administration official who spoke to reporters on Monday and said, “This policy is in keeping with President Trump’s desire to make the United States energy independent . When it comes to climate change, we want to take our course and do it in our own form and fashion.” Will the executive order create jobs ? Trump supporters say yes, as the order would liberate oil and gas industries. Opponents say the new jobs will be for lawyers, according to the BBC, as some environmental organizations have announced their intention to sue. But one person the BBC referred to as a green source said the Trump administration wants delay; lawsuits could give the Trump administration what it wants. The executive order doesn’t address the 2015 Paris climate agreement . Via the BBC and The Washington Post Images via Wikimedia Commons and Gage Skidmore on Flickr

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Trump’s new executive order to undo Obama climate action

Trump administration could open door to geoengineering

March 27, 2017 by  
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President Donald Trump’s main stance on climate change is usually denial, but if he does take action it could be with the controversial approach of geoengineering . Large-scale climate engineering didn’t receive much support under President Barack Obama, but now environmental organizations are saying in the new administration interest may be building for solar geoengineering, or spraying sulphate particles in the air with the hope of reflecting the sun’s radiation back into outer space to lower Earth’s temperature. Harvard University scientists David Keith and Frank Keutsch, who started the largest solar geoengineering research program in the world, may find support in the new administration. The two engineers hope to test spraying in 2018 in Arizona via a high-altitude balloon to obtain information of the practice’s impacts at a large scale. At a geoengineering forum last week, Keith seemed to indicate now might be the time to carry the research forward, saying he is ready for field testing. A briefing paper for the form stated the context for talking about solar geoengineering research “has changed substantially since we planned and funded this forum nearly one year ago.” Related: US Congress could fund geoengineering research for the first time Rex Tillerson , current Secretary of State, might also support geoengineering. The Guardian reported ExxonMobil scientists worked on geoengineering techniques like carbon dioxide removal while Tillerson was CEO, and at a 2015 ExxonMobil shareholder meeting Tillerson said “plan B has always been grounded in our beliefs around the continued evolution of technology and engineered solutions.” And one of the Trump Environmental Protection Agency transition architects, David Schnare, has lobbied American lawmakers and testified to the Senate in support of the controversial approach to climate change. Silvia Riberio of watchdog organization ETC Group told The Guardian, “Clearly parts of the Trump administration are very willing to open the door to reckless schemes like David Keith’s, and may well have quietly given the nod to open-air experiments. Worryingly, geoengineering may emerge as this administration’s preferred approach to global warming . In their view, building a big beautiful wall of sulphate in the sky could be a perfect excuse to allow uncontrolled fossil fuel extraction. We need to be focusing on radical emissions cuts, not dangerous and unjust technofixes.” Via The Guardian Images via Pixabay and Wikimedia Commons

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Trump administration could open door to geoengineering

Rural America advances on sustainability, calling it common sense

March 27, 2017 by  
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One primary concern in rural areas: higher temperatures put strain on water and energy sources.

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Rural America advances on sustainability, calling it common sense

Is this the start of an SDG reporting boom?

March 27, 2017 by  
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More companies are trying to measure progress toward the sweeping United Nations global development goals.

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Is this the start of an SDG reporting boom?

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