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Climate Roundup

Here’s a roundup of the biggest climate news from the past week:

Graphic from Shell’s 1991 video

1. #ShellKnew. The Guardian reported that Shell made a video in 1991 warning of the risks of climate change. Titled Climate of Concern, the 28-min video was intended for schools and universities. Shell’s account of climate change holds up well, from the basic science to the projected consequences. Some highlights:

  • Global mean temperatures could increase by 1.5°C to 4°C by 2050 and warns of warming “at a rate faster than at any time since the end of the ice age – change too fast perhaps for life to adapt, without severe dislocation.”
  • Although different climate models vary in their precise predictions, all of them have “prompted the same serious warning . . . endorsed by a uniquely broad consensus of scientists in their report to the Untied Nations at the end of the 1990.”
  • Even “a meter or so” of sea-level rise — more than the amount we’ve already baked in — “could be disastrous.”

The video was made public at the time but then forgotten. It has now been posted on YouTube.

2. This week in Trump. President Trump didn’t mention climate change in his address to Congress, and he said almost nothing about energy issues — just a mention of saving coal jobs and the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines. But Joe Romm points out that what little he said was “riddled with falsehoods.” Politico reported that Trump will soon sign an executive order changing the Renewable Fuel Standard in a manner that would likely provide hundreds of millions of dollars in annual benefits to Carl Icahn, a Trump adviser and transition team official. Politico also reported (paywall) that Trump will sign an executive order rolling back the Clean Power Plan next week. Finally, Trump grabbed some attention with his claim that new pipelines should be made with U.S.-made  steel. Guess who would benefit? A company with ties to Russian president Vladimir Putin. (DeSmogBlog)

3. China. Joe Romm reports that China in 2016 “smashed” solar energy records and cut coal use and CO2 emissions. Also, the country is mandating that all new taxis in Beijing be electric. But researchers say it’s still too early to say for sure whether Chinese emissions have peaked, plateaued, or will rise again soon. Chinese coal consumption was down in the first half of 2016 but started rising again in the second half, driven by growth in demand for electricity. One big question is whether this demand was temporary or will continue to drive increases in coal consumption in 2017. There is also simply a lot of uncertainty in preliminary energy and emissions data from China.

4. #ChevronInvestorsKnow. Chevron became the first large publicly owned fossil fuel company to disclose to investors that it’s exposed to material risks from government investigations and private lawsuits over climate change.

5. Scientists as messengers for action. A recent study suggests that scientists can take a tough stand in favor of climate action without losing credibility, so long as they don’t endorse certain specific policies.

6. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) joins the House Climate Caucus. ‘Nuff said.

7. Build support for climate action with one weird trick? David Roberts argues why simple re-framing is not likely to make a big difference.

8. Extreme weather roundup: