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Climate Change

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German energy company RWE says it will phase out the burning of coal by 2030, saving 280 million metric tons of climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions. The decision announced Tuesday will accelerate the closure of some of Europe’s most polluting power plants and a vast lignite strip mine in the west of the country. The move boosts the German government’s efforts to bring forward the deadline for coal use by eight years from 2038 as part of the country’s goal of ending its greenhouse gas emissions by 2045. Germany's economy minister said negotiations with the operators of Germany’s other coal mines and eight coal-fired power plants are ongoing. RWE will also expand its renewable energy production and build gas-fired power plants capable of burning hydrogen.

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Virginia's Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin is calling for expanding nuclear power generation in the state, and reevaluating a recent clean energy law celebrated by environmentalists. His administration laid out those and other goals in a 29-page state energy plan unveiled Monday. The plan also calls for restoring greater authority to state regulators who oversee the state’s powerful utilities. The energy plan carries no force but offers insight on policy choices Youngkin’s administration may pursue. Environmental groups and some Democratic state lawmakers were broadly critical of Youngkin’s plan. They vowed Monday to push back on any attempt to roll back environmental reforms enacted in recent years.

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King Charles III has decided not to attend the international climate change summit in Egypt next month, fueling speculation that the new monarch will have to rein in his environmental activism now that he has ascended the throne. The Sunday Times newspaper reported that the decision came after Conservative Prime Minister Liz Truss objected to Charles attending the conference, known as COP27, when she met with the king last month at Buckingham Palace. But a member of Truss’ Cabinet said the government and palace were in agreement about the decision and suggestions to the contrary were untrue. Charles has been a champion of environmental issues for decades.

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President Joe Biden, a self-described “car guy,″ often promises to lead by example on climate change by moving swiftly to convert the sprawling U.S. government fleet to zero-emission electric vehicles. But efforts to eliminate gas-powered vehicles from the fleet have lagged. Biden last year directed the government to purchase only American-made zero-emission passenger cars by 2027. But the General Services Administration, which buys two-thirds of the federal fleet, says there are no guarantees. It cites big upfront costs and specialized agency needs, such as off-road vehicles for national parks that have limited EV options. About 13% of new light-duty vehicles purchased across the government this year — meaning about 3,550 — were zero emissions.

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Experts say that Hurricane Ian is shining a spotlight once again on the vulnerability of the nation’s barrier islands and the increasing cost of people living on them. Florida's Sanibel Island was hard hit by the storm. Homes were destroyed. Two people have been confirmed dead. And Sanibel's lone bridge to the mainland collapsed. Barrier island communities like Sanibel anchor tourist economies that provide crucial tax dollars. But the cost of rebuilding them is often high because they’re home to many high-value properties. Jesse Keenan is a real estate professor at Tulane University. He questions whether such communities can keep rebuilding as hurricanes become more and more destructive from climate change.

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Lebanon is the most water-rich country in the Middle East, but its farming communities are struggling to keep their soil from drying. The small town of Harf Beit Hasna, up on a mountain in the north, has long survived by creating ponds to hold rain water. It relies on them completely to water their crops because the government never connected the town to the water system or provided other basic services. In the past, the pools were enough to grow profitable crops and livestock. But with rain dwindling, families struggle to grow enough to survive.

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A quick study by two scientists calculates that climate change made Hurricane Ian 10% rainier than it would have been if there were no such thing as global warming. Thursday's analysis, which was not peer reviewed, is based on 20 computer simulations of a world with no climate change from the burning of coal, oil and natural gas. Scientists then compared those scenarios to what was playing out in real time with Hurricane Ian. The authors compared the highest rainfall rates over three hours.

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EV owners are encouraged to show and tell, and the EV curious are encourage to see and hear — and maybe go for a test ride.

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President Joe Biden has told visiting leaders from more than a dozen Pacific Island countries that the U.S. is committed to bolstering its presence in their region and becoming a more collaborative partner as they face the “existential threat” of climate change. The president on Thursday addressed the leaders who gathered in Washington for a summit as the White House looks to improve relations in the Pacific amid heightened U.S. concern about China’s growing economic and military influence. Biden hosted the leaders for a dinner at the White House on Thursday evening.

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As new estimates come in it becomes increasingly likely that the damaged Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea will spew more climate-changing methane into the atmosphere than any previous known single event. The leaks, which are being called an act of sabotage, highlight the problem of large methane escapes elsewhere around the globe. Levels of the gas are rising in the atmosphere, warming the Earth to higher temperatures.

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Oregon is set to become the first state in the nation to cover certain climate change expenses under its Medicaid program. State health officials say the low-income health plan will cover devices such as air conditioners, air filters and generators for people with medical conditions who live in areas where a weather emergency has been declared. The measure is included in Oregon's renewed Medicaid waiver. Oregon will pay for it with $1 billion in new federal funding. Under the waiver, the state will also become the first to keep children continuously enrolled in Medicaid until age 6.

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This Thanksgiving, your pumpkin pie might have a lower carbon footprint. Farmers in central Illinois who supply 85% of the world's canned pumpkin are adopting regenerative techniques to reduce emissions, attract bees and other pollinators and improve soil health. The effort is backed by Libby's, which is owned by Nestle. It's one of several big companies that have started regenerative farming programs in the last few years, including General Mills, PepsiCo and Walmart. Arohi Sharma, who studies regenerative farming for the Natural Resources Defense Council, says companies see drought and other impacts from climate change and know they must act.

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President Joe Biden is hosting Pacific Island leaders for a two-day summit as the U.S. looks to counter China’s influence in the region. Pacific Island leaders see a more pressing concern in addressing problems caused by climate change. The leaders kicked off the summit by meeting with Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday and are set to meet with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other U.S. officials. Biden will address the leaders Thursday at the State Department and host them at the White House for dinner. Among those participating are leaders from Fiji, the Marshall Islands, the Solomon Islands, French Polynesia and New Caledonia.

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A Danish official says the Nord Stream gas leaks in the Baltic Sea could emit the equivalent of one third of Denmark’s total annual greenhouse gas emissions. That would also be five times the amount of the potent greenhouse gas as was emitted during the Aliso Canyon well disaster in California in 2015-2016. A chemical engineer estimated the amount will turn out to be less, but still double what escaped at Aliso Canyon. Methane is a very potent greenhouse gas, able to warm the atmosphere 82.5 times more than carbon dioxide.

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Pakistan’s foreign minister is recommending cooperation with the Taliban even though many U.S. officials say Afghanistan’s ruling faction have proved unworthy of it. Pakistan’s top diplomat, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, tells The Associated Press that the international community should work with the Taliban, not around them, when it comes to combatting foreign extremist groups and Afghanistan's economic and humanitarian crises. Zardari attended the U.N. General Assembly in New York last week and visited Washington to try to draw more world attention and assistance to unprecedented flooding that has one-third of Pakistan underwater.

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Hurricane Ian is quickly gaining monstrous strength as it moves over oceans partly heated up by climate change, just like 30 other Atlantic tropical storms since 2017 that became much more powerful in less than a day. This turbocharging of storms is likely to become even more frequent as the world gets warmer, scientists say. After getting 67% stronger in less than 22 hours from Monday to Tuesday, Ian is bearing down as a likely Category 4 hurricane that threatens to deliver a potential nightmare storm-surge to the Tampa Bay and southwest Florida regions. Ian’s so-called rapid intensification occurred after it traveled over Caribbean waters that are about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius) warmer than normal.

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Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is warning of economic calamity if climate change is not addressed with immediate government intervention. She says the increasing frequency and severity of natural disasters could create devastating short-term supply reductions of everyday goods that could cause prices to skyrocket. She spoke during a visit to North Carolina, which is home to several tight races in the upcoming midterm elections. On the trip, Yellen pitched the benefits of Democrats’ new climate, health and tax law, the so-called Inflation Reduction Act, that will spend $375 billion over the next decade on climate-related investments. Combined with last year’s bipartisan infrastructure law, the investments total more than $430 billion.

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