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Climate change threatens U.S. energy supply

Climate scientists predict that current trends of rising sea levels, harder rainfalls and stronger hurricanes fueled by warmer oceans will hammer the Gulf Coast’s oil and chemical infrastructure. At stake is one of the most critical components of the U.S. and global energy system.

Medill National Security reporter Sonja Elmquist reports from Houston on the threat of climate change to oil infrastructure. Read “Houston oil infrastructure exposed to storms” on our site.

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Growing countries should be allowed emissions

Developing countries should have different standards for emission reductions than “developed” countries, to allow for their economic growth, a US Department of State official said Wednesday, Nov. 10.

Jeff Miotke, the department’s climate change coordinator for the U.S. special envoy for climate change, talked about the differences during a discussion about what to expect from climate change negotiations in Cancun next week.

Miotke said developed countries like the US should agree to reduce their emissions on an absolute basis, below a past year’s baseline, while developing countries should be held to more relative standards. For example, the US has committed to reduce their emissions levels in 2020 by 17 percent of what they were in 2005. China is targeting a reduction of the carbon intensity of their economy by up to 45 percent, which means per unit of GDP the amount of emissions would decline but overall emissions will actually grow with the country’s economy.

“Over the short term I think this is something that’s quite feasible and is equitable to allow developing countries that face a very evident development challenge to continue to … Continue Reading

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Military opens discussion on energy security

Navy Vice Adm. William R Burke

Vice Adm. William R Burke, deputy chief of naval operations for fleet readiness and logistics, speaking Oct. 13 about the Navy's energy conservation

The Department of Defense celebrated its efforts to minimize energy consumption last week at the Pentagon. (Read about the panel and events here.) Considering that DoD accounts for more than 90 percent of the federal government’s oil consumption, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen put it best: “It’s taken us far too long to get to this point.” Read his speech

Moving from the “burn it if you’ve got it” mentality has been hard for the military but recent emphasis on the many sketchy countries the U.S. buys oil from has helped with the transition. And the US military in particular has a real opportunity here to lead. Again, as Mullen put it, “We can either lead the change or be changed by the leadership of others.”

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