Energy & Environment — COP27 closes with 'loss and damage' breakthrough

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Tuesday, November 22, 2022

The COP27 conference closes with a long-elusive "loss and damage" deal, pro-sustainability Democrats want narrower permitting reform and Saudi Arabia denies a report that it’s set to increase oil production. This is Overnight Energy & Environment, your source for the latest news focused on energy, the environment and beyond. For The Hill, we’re Rachel Frazin and Zack Budryk. Sign up in the box below or subscribe here.  Close Thank you for signing up! Subscribe to more newsletters here The latest in politics and policy. Direct to your inbox. Sign up for the Energy and Environment newsletter UN conference ends with climate damage deal  The COP27 global climate change conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, wrapped early Sunday with an agreement to compensate developing countries for the damages they have suffered from climate change.  While developing countries have long pushed for a "loss and damage" fund for suffering they say they have endured from climate change, wealthy countries, including the U.S., had resisted the idea.But that changed this year, and those developing nations got a fund establishing such climate reparations. Still, questions linger over how that fund will actually secure monetary backing. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres heralded the agreement as an “important step towards justice.” “I welcome the decision to establish a loss and damage fund and to operationalize it in the coming period,” Guterres said in a statement. “Clearly this will not be enough, but it is a much-needed political signal to rebuild broken trust.”  What does it do? The decision establishes a fund for responding to the “loss and damage” that these countries have suffered, but some details are not yet resolved.   To address that, a transitional committee that will be made up of 24 countries tasked with finding funding sources and establishing a structure and governance for the fund will be established.The fund would be open to "developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change."The decision comes after a tentative deal was reached in the early hours of Saturday morning.   Background: Although the U.S. has long been at the forefront of opposition to the idea, President Biden's climate envoy John Kerry said earlier this year the U.S. was open to it. Late last week, European Union (EU) delegates issued a proposal that European Commission Executive Vice President Frans Timmermans described as the EU’s “final offer.” Timmermans said any agreement would depend on an updated definition of a “developing” country. China, currently the world’s largest single emitter, is considered a developing country under the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.  But wait, there's more: Nations also adopted a broader agreement, called the Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation Plan. Read more about the deal and the original announcement. Sustainability Dems propose narrow permitting effort A group of House Democrats that are part of a sustainability coalition on Monday put forward a narrow proposal on permitting reform amid broader talks on how to reshape the country’s energy approval process.   The new policy brief, released by leaders of the House Sustainable Energy & Environment Coalition (SEEC) narrowly focuses on bolstering the country’s electricity infrastructure and community involvement in energy project assessments.  “This policy brief breaks down some of the key legislative solutions that Congress should take up when considering reforming our laws to build a clean energy future,” the brief’s introduction reads.   The background: The permitting reform negotiations are complex as large swaths of Democrats and Republicans would have to be on board on a set of issues where the two parties remain far apart.   Some of SEEC’s leaders, including co-chair Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) and vice chairs Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.) and Donald McEachin (D-Va.), were part of a large coalition of Democrats who expressed opposition to Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-W.Va.) permitting reform push. The new pitch from the sustainability coalition promotes legislation that the lawmakers say would give the federal government more power to approve some electric transmission lines, bolster grid resiliency and promote the development of community solar and offshore wind. It also called for increases to community involvement by requiring the preparation of reports on whether projects will harm community health and establishing environmental justice liaisons for such projects.   Manchin has been fighting to speed up the approval process for both fossil and renewable energy projects. Backed by Democratic leadership, he recently attempted to pass legislation that included shorter timelines for environmental impact studies and the approval of a pipeline in his home state.  Read more about the brief here.  INTERIOR PROPOSES OIL LEASE SALES IN UT, NV The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on Monday announced two proposed oil and gas lease sales for nearly 100,000 acres of land in Nevada and Utah. The land in question includes 63,603.89 acres on 35 parcels in Nevada and 31,808 acres across 18 parcels in Utah, according to a release from BLM. The land in question would be leased under updated provisions from the Inflation Reduction Act, President Biden’s expansive climate and infrastructure package that became law earlier this year. Under the updated regulations, minimum bids would be set at $10 per acre, a fivefold increase from the previous minimum of $2 per acre. This marks the first increase in the minimum in 35 years. The sales will also reflect updated royalty rates for oil and gas leasing, with minimum rates increasing from 12.5 percent to 16.7 percent. Meanwhile, while rental rates before the act were $1.50 per acre for five years and $2 per year thereafter, the new rates will increase to $3 per acre for the initial two years, $5 an acre for the third through eighth years and $15 in the ninth and tenth years. Read more here. Saudi Arabia denies report on oil production increase Saudi officials on Monday denied the kingdom is backtracking on planned cuts to oil production after The Wall Street Journal reported Riyadh is mulling an increase. “It is well known, and no secret, that OPEC+ does not discuss any decisions ahead of its meetings,” Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said Monday through state news agency SPA.“The current cut of 2 million barrels per day by OPEC+ continues until the end of 2023 and if there is a need to take further measures by reducing production to balance supply and demand, we always remain ready to intervene.”  In its initial report Monday, the Journal reported Saudi Arabia and other OPEC member nations are considering stepping up oil production by up to 500,000 barrels a day ahead of the organization’s Dec. 4 meeting.  In October, OPEC+ announced the original 2 million-barrel cut, sparking fears in the West that it could send gas prices spiraling and throw a lifeline to Russia as it faces the loss of energy revenues due to sanctions.  A number of congressional Democrats called for changes to the U.S.-Saudi relationship after the announcement, saying the West has worked with the Saudis despite concerns over human rights abuses with the understanding that the kingdom would act as a strategic ally. Read more about the denial here.  WHAT WE'RE READING No nitrate police: State and local regulators can’t, or won’t, stop Nebraska’s drinking water from getting worse (Flatwater Free Press) U.S. oil giants Exxon Mobil, Chevron and ConocoPhillips challenged over ‘secretive’ tax practices (CNBC) Soaring West Virginia Electricity Prices Trigger Standoff Over the State’s Devotion to Coal Power (InsideClimateNews) Gold, guns, gangs: on patrol with the elite unit saving Ivory Coast’s forests (The Guardian) EPA floats sharply increased social cost of carbon (E&E News)  MORE FROM THE HILL Interior Department announces new proposed oil and gas lease sales in Nevada, Utah Speeding up clean energy build-out could lessen the impacts of related emissions: study Hochul activates NY National Guard amid ‘epic snow event’ Environmental ministers warn UN climate summit could roll back progress  ⚡️ Lighter click: Electric pizza That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Energy & Environment page for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you tomorrow.  

The COP27 conference closes with a long-elusive "loss and damage" deal, pro-sustainability Democrats want narrower permitting reform and Saudi Arabia denies a report that it’s set to increase oil production. This is Overnight Energy & Environment, your source for the latest news focused on energy, the environment and beyond. For The Hill, we’re Rachel Frazin and Zack Budryk. Sign...

The COP27 conference closes with a long-elusive "loss and damage" deal, pro-sustainability Democrats want narrower permitting reform and Saudi Arabia denies a report that it’s set to increase oil production.

This is Overnight Energy & Environment, your source for the latest news focused on energy, the environment and beyond. For The Hill, we’re Rachel Frazin and Zack Budryk. Sign up in the box below or subscribe here. 

Close
The latest in politics and policy. Direct to your inbox. Sign up for the Energy and Environment newsletter

UN conference ends with climate damage deal 

The COP27 global climate change conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, wrapped early Sunday with an agreement to compensate developing countries for the damages they have suffered from climate change. 

  • While developing countries have long pushed for a "loss and damage" fund for suffering they say they have endured from climate change, wealthy countries, including the U.S., had resisted the idea.
  • But that changed this year, and those developing nations got a fund establishing such climate reparations. Still, questions linger over how that fund will actually secure monetary backing.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres heralded the agreement as an “important step towards justice.”

“I welcome the decision to establish a loss and damage fund and to operationalize it in the coming period,” Guterres said in a statement. “Clearly this will not be enough, but it is a much-needed political signal to rebuild broken trust.” 

What does it do? The decision establishes a fund for responding to the “loss and damage” that these countries have suffered, but some details are not yet resolved.  

  • To address that, a transitional committee that will be made up of 24 countries tasked with finding funding sources and establishing a structure and governance for the fund will be established.
  • The fund would be open to "developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change."
  • The decision comes after a tentative deal was reached in the early hours of Saturday morning.  

Background: Although the U.S. has long been at the forefront of opposition to the idea, President Biden's climate envoy John Kerry said earlier this year the U.S. was open to it.

Late last week, European Union (EU) delegates issued a proposal that European Commission Executive Vice President Frans Timmermans described as the EU’s “final offer.”

Timmermans said any agreement would depend on an updated definition of a “developing” country. China, currently the world’s largest single emitter, is considered a developing country under the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. 

But wait, there's more: Nations also adopted a broader agreement, called the Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation Plan.

Read more about the deal and the original announcement.

Sustainability Dems propose narrow permitting effort

A group of House Democrats that are part of a sustainability coalition on Monday put forward a narrow proposal on permitting reform amid broader talks on how to reshape the country’s energy approval process.  

The new policy brief, released by leaders of the House Sustainable Energy & Environment Coalition (SEEC) narrowly focuses on bolstering the country’s electricity infrastructure and community involvement in energy project assessments. 

“This policy brief breaks down some of the key legislative solutions that Congress should take up when considering reforming our laws to build a clean energy future,” the brief’s introduction reads.  

The background: The permitting reform negotiations are complex as large swaths of Democrats and Republicans would have to be on board on a set of issues where the two parties remain far apart.  

Some of SEEC’s leaders, including co-chair Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) and vice chairs Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.) and Donald McEachin (D-Va.), were part of a large coalition of Democrats who expressed opposition to Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-W.Va.) permitting reform push.

The new pitch from the sustainability coalition promotes legislation that the lawmakers say would give the federal government more power to approve some electric transmission lines, bolster grid resiliency and promote the development of community solar and offshore wind.

It also called for increases to community involvement by requiring the preparation of reports on whether projects will harm community health and establishing environmental justice liaisons for such projects.  

Manchin has been fighting to speed up the approval process for both fossil and renewable energy projects. Backed by Democratic leadership, he recently attempted to pass legislation that included shorter timelines for environmental impact studies and the approval of a pipeline in his home state. 

Read more about the brief here. 

INTERIOR PROPOSES OIL LEASE SALES IN UT, NV

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on Monday announced two proposed oil and gas lease sales for nearly 100,000 acres of land in Nevada and Utah.

The land in question includes 63,603.89 acres on 35 parcels in Nevada and 31,808 acres across 18 parcels in Utah, according to a release from BLM.

The land in question would be leased under updated provisions from the Inflation Reduction Act, President Biden’s expansive climate and infrastructure package that became law earlier this year. Under the updated regulations, minimum bids would be set at $10 per acre, a fivefold increase from the previous minimum of $2 per acre. This marks the first increase in the minimum in 35 years.

The sales will also reflect updated royalty rates for oil and gas leasing, with minimum rates increasing from 12.5 percent to 16.7 percent. Meanwhile, while rental rates before the act were $1.50 per acre for five years and $2 per year thereafter, the new rates will increase to $3 per acre for the initial two years, $5 an acre for the third through eighth years and $15 in the ninth and tenth years.

Read more here.

Saudi Arabia denies report on oil production increase

Saudi officials on Monday denied the kingdom is backtracking on planned cuts to oil production after The Wall Street Journal reported Riyadh is mulling an increase.

  • “It is well known, and no secret, that OPEC+ does not discuss any decisions ahead of its meetings,” Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said Monday through state news agency SPA.
  • “The current cut of 2 million barrels per day by OPEC+ continues until the end of 2023 and if there is a need to take further measures by reducing production to balance supply and demand, we always remain ready to intervene.” 

In its initial report Monday, the Journal reported Saudi Arabia and other OPEC member nations are considering stepping up oil production by up to 500,000 barrels a day ahead of the organization’s Dec. 4 meeting. 

In October, OPEC+ announced the original 2 million-barrel cut, sparking fears in the West that it could send gas prices spiraling and throw a lifeline to Russia as it faces the loss of energy revenues due to sanctions. 

A number of congressional Democrats called for changes to the U.S.-Saudi relationship after the announcement, saying the West has worked with the Saudis despite concerns over human rights abuses with the understanding that the kingdom would act as a strategic ally.

Read more about the denial here. 

WHAT WE'RE READING

  • No nitrate police: State and local regulators can’t, or won’t, stop Nebraska’s drinking water from getting worse (Flatwater Free Press
  • U.S. oil giants Exxon Mobil, Chevron and ConocoPhillips challenged over ‘secretive’ tax practices (CNBC
  • Soaring West Virginia Electricity Prices Trigger Standoff Over the State’s Devotion to Coal Power (InsideClimateNews
  • Gold, guns, gangs: on patrol with the elite unit saving Ivory Coast’s forests (The Guardian
  • EPA floats sharply increased social cost of carbon (E&E News

MORE FROM THE HILL

⚡️ Lighter click: Electric pizza

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Energy & Environment page for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you tomorrow.  

Read the full story here.
Photos courtesy of

How to learn to love winter

Getty Images Winter doesn’t have to be the absolute worst time of year. Depending on where you live and your personal disposition, winter fills you with either delight (Skiing! Warm beverages! Cozy sweaters!) or dread (dry skin, early sunsets, painful wind chills). Every season comes with its unique trappings, but for regions that experience freezing temps, winter tends to draw the most contention. It’s true that cold has less-than-desirable effects on the body. Many people report feeling hungrier in the winter; long, dark nights contribute to increased tiredness as well as feelings of winter malaise, known as seasonal affective disorder; low humidity and the heat in homes contribute to dry, itchy skin. Despite all the havoc winter unleashes on the mind and body, there are ways to care for yourself to blunt the impact of cold and darkness. Regardless of the time of year, understanding how you react to icy temperatures and shorter days — physically and mentally — can help you prepare defenses and have a more pleasant and comfortable winter (even if the season is already half over). How winter affects the body and mind The body has both physical and behavioral reactions to frosty conditions, says Clare Eglin, a principal lecturer in human and applied physiology at the University of Portsmouth. When the external world gets cold, your warm skin loses heat to the environment, Eglin explains, and this is how you perceive the concept of being cold. Hands and face are the biggest contributors to sensing a chill: If the hands and face are exposed to wintry elements, you’ll feel colder, says Eglin, who studies how the body reacts to frigid temperatures. “As we start to lose heat to the environment, then our body reacts to try and prevent that heat loss and so the blood vessels in the skin narrow and that prevents the blood flow going there,” she says. “That reduces the skin temperature further, which is great because it stops us losing so much heat to the environment, but then our skin temperature feels colder and so we feel colder.” As a result, the brain shifts the blood flow from the extremities to the core and you start to shiver and your teeth clatter in an effort to get warm. The behavioral reaction to cold is to hunch over to conserve heat, Eglin says. Remaining tense, with shoulders shrugged, for an extended period can cause moderate pain and stiffness. Shivering and moving around to get warm requires energy, Eglin says, which you get from food. As the body breaks down food, the process releases heat, and you’ll actually feel warmer. This may explain increased hunger during the winter, Eglin says, to compensate for the energy required to warm you up. These effects may be negligible: Studies show cold environments only account for 100 to 200 calories burned. However, contextual influences may contribute to increased hunger in the winter. The holiday season, early sunset, and boredom could cause you to think about and surround yourself with more food. One small study found that participants increased their consumption of meat and dairy products in the winter. “There’s a lot of variability,” Eglin says. “Some people show a marked increase in the amount they eat, and other people don’t.” Lack of daylight is to blame for sluggishness and depression. In the morning, daylight is the body’s cue to wake up and get to work; once the sun sets and light dissipates, the body produces melatonin and gets sleepy. Belated sunrise and early sunset during the winter is a recipe for tiredness all season long. Lack of light causes all the body’s internal clocks (the mechanisms that regulate body temperature, hunger, and stress response) to fall out of sync, says Bonnie Spring, a professor of preventive medicine, psychology, and psychiatry at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. “If it’s dark in the morning, and you feel like sleeping in and you do sleep in, then … you will be eating your breakfast later and not at a time when your insulin is sensitive enough to metabolize those calories efficiently,” she says. “You just get a spiral of things that goes off track.” Being off-cycle contributes to seasonal affective disorder, a type of depression that typically lasts during winter. SAD manifests in a depression beginning around late fall, Spring says, along with sleeping too much or too little; an increase in the consumption of carbohydrates, starches, and sweets; and weight gain. Because SAD is a genuine mental health disorder and considered a type of depression, more intensive treatments like therapy and antidepressants might be necessary. If you dread winter, try to change your mindset Despite all the biological and environmental hurdles winter throws our way, there are plenty of people who thrive during colder months. While she was organizing a research project on SAD in Norway, health psychologist Kari Leibowitz learned from a local collaborator how there weren’t any marked differences in mental health between winter and summer. In a country that is dark for most of the winter, Leibowitz was curious why these people flourished when so many others anguished during the season. Among her findings, which she chronicles in the forthcoming book How to Winter: Harnessing Mindset to Embrace All Seasons of Life, was a profound contrast in mindset toward winter among Norwegians. Largely, people in Nordic countries aren’t limited by cold and darkness; they continue to enjoy the outdoors and embrace coziness during the winter. (Of course, a year of paid parental leave and universal health care probably don’t hurt mental health, either.) By contrast, Americans, although hardly monolithic in experience, generally have a negative attitude about winter. “I think a lot of people, especially the people who aren’t in the coldest part of the US,” Leibowitz says, “tend to really struggle with the winter and focus a lot on the negatives and see it as a really limiting time of year ... when you can’t do the things that you enjoy doing.” Instead of viewing winter as a season of constraints, create opportunities that make it distinctive. If you enjoy beach trips or hiking in the summer, what are your winter alternatives? Lean into the coziness of the season and eat dinner by candlelight or experiment with warm recipes like soups and stews. Focus on the things you actually enjoy about the winter and activities you can only partake in when it’s cold and dark, like weekend ski trips and movie marathons. Something as small as reveling in the warmth of your home after a cold errand run can help improve mindset, Leibowitz says. “For a lot of people who really like the winter, they see it as a time to slow down, maybe have more intimate social gatherings, maybe read more, or make art or read poetry or practice music,” she says. Ritualizing certain aspects of winter entertainment — like a weekly TV night or daily cup of tea — makes an average part of life an event worth looking forward to. (Anticipating events in the future is also beneficial to mental health.) Get some daylight and fresh air, even when it’s cold outside In order to overcome the sluggish effects of minimal daylight in winter, light exposure is essential. Soaking in the daylight during a one-hour morning walk has been found to reduce the effects of SAD, according to research. Getting light in the morning also helps you fall asleep at night. Being in nature comes with a wealth of cognitive and emotional benefits, too. Layer up (more on that later) and take the dog for a walk or go for a quick hike. “If you are cooped up all winter long, if you’re not going on walks, if you’re not being active, if you’re not getting fresh air and whatever light you have access to in your part of the world,” Leibowitz says, “then it’s a recipe for feeling a little bit miserable during the winter.” Alternatives to natural light are lightboxes and sunrise alarm clocks. Designed to replicate the experience of soaking in natural light, these devices help treat SAD and are meant to be used for 20 to 30 minutes first thing in the morning. Similarly, sunrise alarm clocks play double duty: They serve morning light and also provide a wake-up call. Wear appropriate winter clothing Much of the disdain toward winter stems from a general dislike for being cold. “Every day I went to high school in my jeans and my sneakers and I put a coat on, but I wondered why I was shivering and miserable all winter,” says Leibowitz, whose New Jersey winters soured her view of the season. On a practical level, enjoying winter rests on your wardrobe. In Norway, where Leibowitz researches winter lifestyle, residents wear woolen leggings, undershirts, sweaters, and socks. Grocery stores are stocked with merino wool leggings and undershirts. By no means do you need to acquire these items if you don’t already have them (thrift stores and clothing swaps are good options for collecting warm-weather gear), but the sentiment remains: Layering is the key to staying warm in winter. Leibowitz’s Arctic-inspired winter wardrobe includes leggings under jeans and long-sleeved undergarments beneath a sweater. Waterproof jackets and boots keep snow and rain from soaking the clothes underneath. Your layering is contingent on your activity; you’ll want to wear more clothing for a casual walk outside or a lazy day on the couch than you will for a rigorous run or housework. As far as fabrics go, wool is ideal because it wicks moisture away from the body. Cotton, on the other hand, holds on to moisture, so if you sweat at all during a winter hike or bike ride, that perspiration won’t dry and will make you chillier. Soft and loose fabrics are comforting against dry, itchy skin. Remember to keep your hands and feet warm if you’re going outside, Eglin says, since blood flows away from the extremities when it’s cold. Good socks and gloves are essential. Navigating around ice and snow doesn’t have to be treacherous Ice and snowfall can prove especially difficult for folks with mobility issues. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, snow and ice must be cleared from entrances to public buildings. Most states have specific snow removal laws for residential properties, so double-check whether you’re responsible for shoveling the sidewalk outside of your house and clarify with your landlord on who’s responsible for clearing snow and ice at your building. Some towns and cities offer snow clearing exemptions for people with disabilities or seniors. To help fill in the gaps where local municipalities fall short with snow removal policies, be a good community member and make sure you’re keeping the sidewalks around your home clear of snow and ice, and, if you can, offer to shovel or offer rides to neighbors in need. Look in on who may need help getting groceries or prescriptions during a winter storm. If you’re unable to clear snow around your home, check to see if a local volunteer organization offers snow removal services. Spring recommends using community Facebook groups or apps like Nextdoor to volunteer to help out a neighbor or to ask for assistance. Winter doesn’t need to be a time of inconvenience. A shift in mindset and a practical approach to the season can empower you (and those around you) to feel comfy and cozy even through frigid conditions. Even Better is here to offer deeply sourced, actionable advice for helping you live a better life. Do you have a question on money and work; friends, family, and community; or personal growth and health? Send us your question by filling out this form. We might turn it into a story.

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