Thursday, February 8, 2018

Presentation: LOCAL CLIMATE GOALS - What are they? How can we meet them?

The Sierra Club

Climate & Clean Energy Writers Group

Thursday, February 15, 2018


What are they? How can we meet them?

County Executive Mark Poloncarz recently released the report Erie County Commits to Paris - How Erie County Can Meet U.S. Target Reductions for Greenhouse Gas Emissions. Come get the facts on what the local sources are for greenhouse gases (GHG). Learn about the County's plans to reduce GHG emissions both in-house and in the community.

6:00-7:30 PM
Crane Branch Library
633 Elmwood at Highland
2nd Floor Meeting Room

Free & Open to the Public - Writers and Non-Writers alike for information

Price Carbon Pollution to Fund a Transition to Clean Energy and Green Jobs


A Need for a Pollution Tax

FEB. 5, 2018

To the Editor:

Re: “New Jersey Rejoins Regional Emissions Program It Quit Under Christie” (news article, Jan. 31):

When it comes to cutting carbon emissions, participating in a cap-and-trade program like the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is important, but it’s only a partial solution. After all, the initiative covers emissions solely from power plants, whereas transportation produces the bulk of New York’s emissions. And so far, the initiative has not cut carbon at the speed science tells us is required to avert dangerous warming.

To do that, we’ll need a more comprehensive and aggressive form of pollution pricing. Your article highlights the laudable effort by Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington State to tax fossil fuel pollution directly and reinvest the revenue in renewable energy. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York will soon have the same opportunity.

NY Renews, a coalition of 140 environmental, labor and community groups across New York State, has been developing a proposal — likely to be introduced in Albany this year — to invest in job-creating clean energy and resiliency projects for coastal communities, using revenue from a polluter fee.

We need Governor Cuomo to be a real climate leader and embrace this common-sense idea, and lead the country in passing it into law.


The writer is director of the Long Island Progressive Coalition, a member of NY Renews.

~    ~    ~

State should follow New York City's lead taking on big oil

By Ashley Dawson, Commentary
January 28, 2018 | Times Union

“Put a price on carbon emissions so that Big Oil pays for the damage done to our health and environment, and so that we can bankroll a transition to clean energy and fair-labor green jobs.”

The Empire State Building was lit up bright green Jan. 10 to celebrate the precedent-setting announcement by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and other city officials: New York City is going to divest its $5 billion pension fund from fossil fuel-related investments. The city also has filed suit against the five biggest oil corporations to recover the billions of dollars in damage climate change has inflicted on the city.

It was a historic moment. The biggest city in the world's most powerful nation came out against the planet's richest, most powerful and most irresponsible industry. But it will take time for New York City's actions to have an impact. Divestment is not expected to happen until at least 2022. Big Oil has legions of lawyers who are experts in using the courts to obstruct justice and forestall reparations.

Although New York City's stand against Big Oil certainly sends a loud and emboldening message to the world, we need to be far more ambitious at the state level. We need state politicians to step up with concrete policy proposals that speed the transition away from fossil fuels. Otherwise, New York City's divestment could be nothing but hollow political posturing.

There certainly doesn't seem to be any meaningful coordination toward divestment on a state level. Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced last month that he is directing the state to begin looking into divesting its own substantial pension funds from fossil fuels. However, the following day, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, sole trustee of the state's $200 billion pension fund, responded that "there are no immediate plans to divest our energy holdings."

Last summer, as President Donald Trump announced his intention to back out of the Paris Agreement, the state Legislature considered the Climate and Community Protection Act (CCPA), which mandated the elimination of fossil fuels from New York's economy within 35 years. The CCPA set fair-labor standards for all green projects and ensured that at least 40 percent of the benefits of transitioning to a zero-carbon economy would be directed to the disadvantaged New York communities that have contributed the least to climate change but will bear the brunt of it. Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich called the CCPA "the most progressive climate equity policy we've seen."

But the CCPA died after state Sen. Tony Avella, D-Queens, declined to push Senate leaders to bring the bill to a vote. Avella is a member of the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), whose members all cosponsored the bill in the Senate in the first place. But the IDC caucuses with Republicans. Cuomo, who refused to make the CCPA a priority in his 2018 executive budget, has often sided with the IDC and has not pushed for them to rejoin the Democrats. Given the war declared on blue states by the Trump administration, the days of such antics by right-wing Democrats should be numbered in a place like New York.

It's time for the citizens of New York to show the rest of the country we can lead the way beyond fossil fuels. Put a price on carbon emissions so that Big Oil pays for the damage done to our health and environment, and so that we can bankroll a transition to clean energy and fair-labor green jobs. These corporations are not and never will be good citizens. They have known the facts about climate change for at least four decades and have done everything to obscure reality and sow public confusion. They have corroded our democracy and wrought havoc on our planet in the name of profits. As de Blasio put it, it's time that these corporations take responsibility for what they've done.

More Information:
Ashley Dawson is the Barron Visiting Professor at the Princeton Environmental Institute and professor at the City University of New York's Graduate Center and the College of Staten Island. He is the author of "Extreme Cities: The Peril and Promise of Urban Life in the Age of Climate Change."

~    ~    ~

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

State Comptroller announces $2 Billion Boost in Climate-Smart Investments

New York’s Giant Pension Fund Doubles Climate-Smart Investment


The $2 billion boost was announced at the Investors Summit on Climate Risk, where top fund managers discussed finance for a low-carbon, clean energy future.

By Nicholas Kusnetz  | Feb 1, 2018  |  Inside Climate News

America's third-largest public pension fund is ramping up its climate-savvy investments, New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli announced to global finance leaders on Wednesday.

The fund, a huge and influential investor, plans to double its stake to $4 billion in a portfolio of companies that disclose and seek to lower their emissions of global warming pollution.

"We've particularly been concerned about how we can address the issue of climate risk and benefit our portfolio," DiNapoli said, speaking at the Investor Summit on Climate Risk, where money managers called for investors to face up to the risks of climate change and to accelerate action to fight global warming.

As the summit was underway at the United Nations on Wednesday, the UK Government's Met Office published an ominous new five-year forecast that adds urgency to the investors' climate concerns: Annual global temperatures could reach 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels within the next five years, the Met Office warned. The aim of the Paris climate agreement is to prevent warming from getting much beyond that level. 

The $2 billion in additional investment DiNapoli announced will go into a low-emissions index fund that New York's Common Retirement Fund created in 2016. While the low-emissions index fund—which has had an annualized investment return of 16.5 percent—represents just a fraction of the pension fund's more than $200 billion in assets, DiNapoli said he hopes to continue to grow the low-carbon portfolio.

The special climate fund is based on a traditional index fund made up of leading corporations, except that it weights its investments by considering whether the companies disclose their carbon footprints and act to reduce them.

Shareholders Push for Risk Disclosure

DiNapoli is one of several powerful officials from the city and state of New York who have sought to pressure fossil fuel companies and influence their investment and risk management practices. The city has launched litigation seeking to recover climate damages and pledged to divest its pensions funds from fossil fuel producers, and the state's attorney general has been in a long fight with ExxonMobil on its climate record.

Corporations have come under increasing pressure in recent years to better disclose the risks they face in a future of rising temperatures and greater restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions. DiNapoli's office helped lead a resolution approved last year by Exxon shareholders that requires the oil giant to report on those risks annually.

Monday, February 5, 2018

2017: Historic and Most Expensive Year of U.S. Weather and Climate Disasters on Our Continuously Warming Planet

Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters
1st Quarter Release | National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

The U.S. has sustained 219 weather and climate disasters since 1980 where overall damages/costs reached or exceeded $1 billion (including CPI adjustment to 2017). The total cost of these 219 events exceeds $1.5 trillion. This total now includes the initial cost estimates for Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.

In 2017, there were 16 weather and climate disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each across the United States. These events included 1 drought event, 2 flooding events, 1 freeze event, 8 severe storm events, 3 tropical cyclone events, and 1 wildfire event. Overall, these events resulted in the deaths of 362 people and had significant economic effects on the areas impacted.

[Click image to enlarge]

During 2017, the U.S. experienced a historic year of weather and climate disasters. In total, the U.S. was impacted by 16 separate billion-dollar disaster events tying 2011 for the record number of billion-dollar disasters for an entire calendar year. In fact, 2017 arguably has more events than 2011 given that our analysis traditionally counts all U.S. billion-dollar wildfires, as regional-scale, seasonal events, not as multiple isolated events.

More notable than the high frequency of these events is the cumulative cost, which exceeds $300 billion in 2017a new U.S. annual record. The cumulative damage of these 16 U.S. events during 2017 is $306.2 billion, which shatters the previous U.S. annual record cost of $214.8 billion (CPI-adjusted), established in 2005 due to the impacts of Hurricanes Dennis, Katrina, Rita and Wilma.

Read more at NOAA

World's Oceans Were Hottest On Record In 2017, Study Finds
by Mary Papenfuss | 1.27.2018 | HuffPost

The world’s oceans in 2017 were the hottest ever recorded, scientists revealed in a new study recently published.

Institute of Atmospheric Physics - [Click image to enlarge]
The findings were based on an updated analysis of the top 6,000 feet of the world’s seas by the Institute of Atmospheric Physics and the Chinese Academy of Science.

“The long-term warming trend driven by human activities continued unabated,” researchers said in the study, which was published in the journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences. “The high ocean temperatures in recent years have occurred as greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere have also risen.”

Owing to its “large heat capacity, the ocean accumulates the warming derived from human activities; indeed, more than 90 percent of Earth’s residual heat related to global warming is absorbed by the ocean,” according to the researchers. “As such, the global ocean heat content record robustly represents the signature of global warming.”

While ocean temperatures dropped slightly in 2016 because of a massive El Nino effect, the last five years were still the hottest recorded for the world’s oceans. The second hottest ocean year was 2015.

Read more at HuffPost

Global Heat Records 2017

1.18.2018  |  Climate Signals | NASA Map

2017 is among the hottest years on record, spawning a number of all-time global heat records, and it occurred without the warming influence of El NiƱo, which boosted the global average temperatures of the previous two record hot years. According to the NASA surface global temperature dataset, 2017 was the 2nd-hottest year on record for the globe. By NOAA's calculations, it was the 3rd hottest.(The two datasets use different baseline periods and methods to analyze Earth’s polar regions and global temperatures.)

The NASA map below shows Earth’s average global temperature from 2013 to 2017, as compared to a baseline average from 1951 to 1980. Yellows, oranges, and reds show regions warmer than the baseline temperature. (Credits: NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio) 

One of the strongest findings of climate science is that global warming amplifies the intensity, duration and frequency of extreme heat events. These events occur on multiple time scales, from a single day or week, to months or entire seasons.

The number of local record-breaking monthly temperature extremes worldwide is now on average five times larger than expected in a climate with no long-term warming, implying that on average there is an 80 percent chance that a new monthly heat record is due to climate change.

An April 2017 study found that anthropogenic global warming had a significant hand in the temperatures seen during the hottest month and on the hottest day on record throughout much of the world from 1931–2016. The study found that climate change made heat records more likely and more severe for about 80 percent of the area of the globe with good observational data.
Read more at Climate Signals

Sunday, January 28, 2018


 On January 31st, the day after Trump’s first State of the Union, Climate movement leaders and Community organizers will gather in Washington D.C. to share our plan to win at ‘Fossil Free Fast: The Climate Resistance.’

The event will feature: Senator Bernie Sanders, co-founder Bill McKibben, Rev. Lennox Yearwood from Hip Hop Caucus, Jacqueline Patterson from the NAACP, and many other exciting speakers and performances.

This event has ended, but you may watch a video recording of the event at C-Span - Click Here

This inspiring event will be live-streamed at 8:00 PM ET -- and thousands across the country will watch with their friends and family. Will you join them?

Watch a short Video: Click Here

Sign up for a watch party near you -- or if there isn’t one happening yet, sign up to host one!  

Go to:

Watch TONIGHT, Wednesday 1/31 at 8 PM:
Livestream Link

For more information, see the following article at Common Dreams:

Fossil Free Fast: A Climate Resistance Game Plan for 2018 
With the transition to 100% renewable energy, we have perhaps a once in a lifetime opportunity to rebuild our economy in a more just and equitable way.

The Climate Resistance Strategy for 2018:
- stop all new fossil fuel projects
- a fast and just transition to 100% renewable energy for all
- continuing and expanding the fossil fuel divestment movement

Read more at Common Dreams  


Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Naomi Klein, Author & Activist: Polluting Industries, Climate Disruption and Justice

Speech by Naomi Klein
delivered on the day of the historic announcement that New York City is divesting from fossil fuels and suing five oil majors who knowingly deepened the climate crisis.

For a very long time, our movements have been insisting that principles of justice need to be at the center of the response to the climate crisis – a crisis that plays out in the most perversely unjust ways right now.

Justice means that people who did the least to create this crisis but are bearing the heaviest risks and most toxic burdens need to be first to benefit from green economic development and job creation.

Justice also means that workers in polluting industries are not sacrificed or left behind. And justice means something else too, something most politicians are loath to talk about because the wealth and power of fossil fuel companies is so vast.

It means that the corporate interests that did the most to get us into this mess – with their pollution and with their campaigns of wilful misinformation – are going to have to pay their true share of the tremendous costs of climate disruption, and of delayed transition. Because right now we have it upside down and backwards.

As it stands, the costs of sea level rise and ferocious and unprecedented weather events are offloaded on to the public, with taxpayers stiffed with the ballooning bills. And as governments absorb these costs, there is less money for schools, for affordable transit and housing, for health care. And, in yet another bitter irony, this hurts the people who are already impacted by climate change the most.

This city saw all this in dramatic fashion during Sandy, when it was the people in public housing who were left for weeks in the cold and dark.

Meanwhile, the extravagant profits from destabilizing our planet’s life support system, earned from ignoring and suppressing the scientific consensus – well, those are systematically privatized.

Earlier this decade, ExxonMobil alone made $45 billion in profits in a single year– more than any company in history. Enough to pay Rex Tillerson, then its CEO $100,000 a day.

In short, the status quo means the poor are paying again and again for the polluters to get even richer. It’s a world upside down. But that starts to change today.

By suing these five oil majors who knowingly deepened the climate crisis, and simultaneously beginning the process of divesting $5-billion from fossil fuel companies, New York City is taking a game changing first step in turning the world right side up. And not to overstate the case, but I actually think this could change the world.

There have been lawsuits before that have tried to sue the fossil fuel giants for climate damages. The tiny Arctic community of Kivalina, population 383, which attempted to recover the costs of having to relocate. Some citizens of the low-lying Pacific Island of Vanuatu– population 300,000 – that began a similar suit. A lone Peruvian farmer, suing a German coal giant for the risks to his home. A small group of Gulf Coast Mississippi homeowners, with the help of a scrappy lawyer, who tried to sue the fossil fuel companies after Hurricane Katrina.

These have been valiant attempts, but in every case, the industry has relied on the relative weakness and poverty of its accusers, sometime managing to quash suits before they were filed.

And that is why today’s news is so historic. Because bullying isn’t going to work here the way it has in the past. This lawsuit is coming from the largest city in the most powerful country on the planet, a city which also happens to be the financial capital of world.

And now that New York City has thrown down in such a big way – on divestment, on polluter pays — it’s going to embolden all kinds of other actors to step up as well. Other cities around the world. Universities. Foundations. Other states. Even entire nation states.

As of today, everyone needs to up their ambition. Be bolder. Move faster. It’s what our planet requires. And it’s what justice demands. No politician on the planet is doing enough. But there can be no doubt that the bar for what it takes to call yourself a climate leader has just been dramatically raised.

The full text is at

Inspired by NY City's Lawsuit against Fossil Fuel Companies over Climate Change, USA's 2nd Biggest City Considers Similar Move

Los Angeles could become the next city to sue fossil fuel companies over climate change

Natasha Geiling - Jan 17, 2018 - ThinkProgress

When New York City announced last week that it would be suing five of the world’s most powerful fossil fuel companies for their role in creating — and perpetuating — global warming, environmental activist Bill McKibben lauded the move as “a major tipping point” in the movement to companies accountable for climate change.

Now, the second largest city in the United States appears to be following New York’s lead, exploring the potential for filing a similar lawsuit against fossil fuel companies. On January 13 — just three days after New York publicly announced its lawsuit — two Los Angeles city councilmembers introduced a motion asking the City Attorney to look into legal options against fossil fuel companies, as well as prepare an official legal statement in support of New York City’s case.

Councilmember Mike Bonin (D), who introduced the motion along with Councilmember Paul Koretz (D), told ThinkProgress that the inspiration for the motion came directly from the example set by New York.

When I saw the news about what de Blasio was doing, it made me say, ‘Why the hell aren’t we doing this here?’” Bonin said. “We like to think that the winds blow from the West to the East, but occasionally, the winds come back.”

Bonin, who represents the western part of Los Angeles, including many of the city’s coastal neighborhoods, called the potential lawsuit part of a “multi-pronged” approach to tackling the issue of climate change through city government. In 2016, the city council unanimously supported a motion to transition to 100 percent renewable energy, and that the local transportation agency has taken steps to transition its municipal fleet of buses from diesel engines to electric. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) has pledged to push forward with local climate action in the face of the Trump administration’s federal agenda, which has prioritized fossil fuel extraction over renewable energy.

"We are facing a federal government that is engaged in — if I was going to be charitable, a dereliction of duty, but I think it’s actually a deliberate sabotage our our planet," Bonin said. “It’s incumbent upon the cities to lead.”

If Los Angeles does decide to file a lawsuit against fossil fuel companies, it would join a group of seven other cities and counties — which, save for New York, are all located in California — seeking to hold companies similarly accountable. Six of those cases claim damages associated with climate-fueled sea level rise, and ask that fossil fuel companies pay into a fund to help offset the cost of updating infrastructure to withstand rising waters. Only Santa Cruz — which filed its lawsuit in late December — is attempting to tie the action of fossil fuel companies to not just sea level rise, but changes in the hydrologic cycle resulting from an increase in atmospheric greenhouse gases — things like drought and wildfire. While it’s unclear what route Los Angeles would take if it chooses to pursue a lawsuit, Southern California recently witnessed the largest wildfire in modern recorded history this December, fueled by a combination of above-average temperatures and below-average precipitation that scientists say is consistent with climate change. To make matters worse, in the wake of December’s Thomas Fire, parts of Southern California experienced heavy rain that caused the scorched soil to turn into devastating mudslides, killing 20 people.

It’s personal for me,” Bonin said about climate change. “We’ve been living through a couple months of real hell with wildfires and mudslides, and it really underscores the importance of not just getting off of fossil fuels but taking whatever steps we can to get there.”

Monday, January 22, 2018

Presentation: The Death of Fossil Fuels -- What Shape will it Take?

The Sierra Club
Climate & Clean Energy Writers Group


Thursday, January 25, 2018 at 6:00PM - 7:30PM

Crane Branch Library, 633 Elmwood at Highland
2nd floor Meeting Room

Free & Open to the Public - Writers and non-writers

Experts tell us that we need to leave 80% of current fossil fuel reserves in the ground if civilization is to survive climate change. Can this happen? Will this happen? How will fossil fuel interests be brought under control? Under the laws of supply and demand will fossil fuels get really expensive or cheap as they become an insignificant energy source? 

Contact for more information

Monday, January 15, 2018

Educational Presentation: Divest from Fossil Fuels? YES!



Educational Presentation


Rev. Peter Cook, Executive Director
NYS Council of Churches

Monday, January 22, 2018    7:00 PM
St. Joseph’s University Church - Community Hall
3269 Main St, Buffalo  14214 [Map]

Sponsored by the Interfaith Climate Justice Community of WNY
The NYS Council of Churches participates in the Divest NY campaign and Rev. Cook will help ICJC focus on ways that we might become involved.  The Council of Churches also advocates for the NYS Climate and Community Protection Act, legislation that would allow NYS to reach 100% renewables by 2050 or before.   

Please plan to attend this important meeting.
 Free & open to the public.

•    Governor Cuomo recently announced that he supports divesting New York’s public pension funds from fossil fuel companies. 
•    New York City and the State together plan to #DivestNY’s $390 billion pensions from fossil fuels: “an undeniable victory for the global divestment movement”

Bill McKibben, co-founder, issued the following statement:
"The dam has broken: after years of great activism,  New York has taken a massive step towards divesting from fossil fuels. Coming from the capital of world finance, this will resonate loud and clear all over the planet. It’s a crucial sign of how fast the financial pendulum is swinging away from fossil fuels.”