Keystone XL decision looming after Obama inauguration

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Friday 18 January

USA: Jonathan Pershing has quit as the US Deputy Special Envoy for Climate Change, moving to the Department of Energy as the new Deputy Assistant Secretary for Climate.

In an email to colleagues he wrote: “It has been both a great pleasure and a privilege to have had the opportunity to serve in this capacity, and not least to meet and work with so many committed, talented people.   I believe we have, collectively, made strides toward a cleaner world – and one a bit less likely to be catastrophically damaged by climate because of our efforts.   Obviously, there is considerably more work to be done.  While I leave with sadness at the idea of no longer being an active part of the international negotiations, I also leave with the confidence the effort will see continued success and lead to a more climate friendly world.”

USA: The Governor of Nebraska is due to make his decision next month on the Keystone XL pipeline’s new route avoiding a key water aquifer in his state. The project, to transport tar sands oil from Canada to the US coast in Texas, was held up by President Obama’s administration. The State Department has final say because the pipeline starts beyond US borders and a decision is expected shortly after the President’s inauguration on Monday. (Newsday)

Australia: Sydney recorded its hottest day in history today. Temperatures reached 45.8°C, the highest in 150 years of records. While an individual record tells us little about climate change, it is the latest in a pattern of temperature records and extreme weather events in Australia that have sparked huge bushfires. (Sydney Morning Herald)

Mexico: New rules on vehicle fuel efficiency have been relaxed by the Mexican government in an effort to safeguard the rest of its climate legislation. The country has passed ambitious climate legislation including a target to reduce emissions 30% by 2020 and 50% by 2050, but only after making several concessions to push it through. (Reuters)

USA: A study informed in part by naturalist Henry David Thoreau’s diary, has found that plants in the US are flowering as much as a month earlier. There are fears that a threshold will be reached at which plants can no longer flower at all. (New York Times)

India: Human activity not climate change is the biggest threat to reefs in the Indian Ocean according to new research. The study by the University of Western Australia found that overfishing and other destructive practices, such as fishing with fine meshed mosquito nets, are having a greater impact. (Zee)

Rio+20: Scientists are unsure how they will be involved in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). “At the moment, it is difficult to move forward and rally scientists around this idea [of SDGs] because there has not been a clear indication from the UN about exactly what role science will play,” Peter Bates of the International Council for Science told The concept of SDGs was agreed at the Rio summit with their content to be settled by 2015. (SciDev)



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