OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Major UN climate report to fuel political battles

COMING FRIDAY: A big, every-five-years assessment of global warming and its effects is set to be released on Friday by the United Nations’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The science panel’s report is expected to find with 95 percent certainty that human activities caused more than half of the global warming that has occurred over the past 60 years.

The report is certain to fuel U.S. climate policy battles as the White House parries GOP efforts to block planned carbon emissions rules for power plants and other administration plans.

It also arrives with the clock running on rocky, U.N.-hosted international climate talks.

Negotiators hope to reach a binding global agreement in late 2015 that would come into force in 2020, but the process has been fractious and on the verge of collapse at times.


Backers of limiting carbon emissions are highlighting the findings of the U.N. science panel, which is meeting in Sweden this week to put the finishing touches on a major segment of what’s called the Fifth Assessment Report.

“Climate change deniers in Congress have run out of excuses to support action. If Senators truly followed the science in this report, we’d have more than 95 votes for action to match the more than 95 percent certainty that we are altering our planet for the worse,” said Sen. Edward MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeySenate Dems to Pompeo: Comments about NPR reporter 'insulting and contemptuous' Hillicon Valley — Presented by Philip Morris International — Bezos phone breach raises fears over Saudi hacking | Amazon seeks to halt Microsoft's work on 'war cloud' | Lawmakers unveil surveillance reform bill Twitter tells facial-recognition app maker to stop collecting its data MORE (D-Mass.).

“Yet too many corners of the U.S. Capitol are polluted with special interest fossil fuel money that sows doubt and delays solutions,” he said.

But Senate Republicans, on the eve of the report’s release, are seeking to undermine the credibility of the U.N. panel.

In a public letter to State Department climate envoy Todd Stern on Thursday, several senators highlight what has been slower-than-predicted surface warming.

The last decade has been the warmest on record, but the warmest year recorded, 2010, was scarcely warmer than 1998.

“With the benefit of decades of actual temperature data to evaluate, the climate forecasting models used by the [UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] and other climate alarmists over the last twenty years have now been shown to have over-predicted the extent to which the planet’s temperatures would increase,” states the letter from Sen. David VitterDavid Bruce VitterThe biggest political upsets of the decade Red-state governor races put both parties on edge Louisiana Republicans score big legislative wins MORE (R-La.) and three colleagues.

The letter alleges that this “hiatus” in warming is at odds with those who are “demanding immediate and costly international and U.S. actions on the basis of these previous IPCC predictions.”

Vitter is the top Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

But advocates of more aggressive steps to confront climate change say the surface temperature slowdown is hardly cause to back off.

They note several possible contributors, such as deep oceans trapping heat, and point out that scientists say variations in the rate of warming are expected and don’t negate evidence of humans’ influence.

The report is also expected to explore effects of climate change such as sea-ice melt, heat waves and heavy rains, sea level rise and other topics.

Watch The Hill’s E2-Wire Friday for more on the U.N. report and its aftermath.


Check out these stories that ran on E2-Wire on Thursday . . .

Canadian PM on Keystone XL: It’s over when we’ve won

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper vowed Thursday to keep seeking approval for the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline even if President Obama rejects it, according to several reports. Click here for the whole story.

White House said to seek replacement for faltering nominee

The White House nomination of Ron Binz to chair the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission appears to be collapsing. Click here to read more.

Poll: Two-thirds want Keystone pipeline, carbon limits

Roughly two-thirds of U.S. residents support the proposed Keystone XL oil sands pipeline and imposing carbon limits on U.S. power plants, a new poll shows. Click here for the whole story.

State: Obama plan hits climate target

President Obama’s climate plan would enable the U.S. to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, according to a new State Department report released Thursday. Click here for the whole story.

Interior gets ball rolling on new Arctic drilling auction

The Interior Department is taking early steps toward deciding which Arctic waters off Alaska’s northern coast to auction in 2016 for oil drilling. Click here for the whole story.

GOP’s Upton wants to speed up cross-border oil pipelines

A senior House Republican is pushing a bill to speed up approval of cross-border oil pipelines, end the State Department’s lead review role and cut environmental study.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Rep. Gene GreenRaymond (Gene) Eugene GreenTexas New Members 2019 Two Democrats become first Texas Latinas to serve in Congress Latina Leaders to Watch 2018 MORE (D-Texas) unveiled a draft bill Wednesday that would revamp permitting for these oil pipelines, as well as gas pipelines and electricity transmission projects that cross the U.S. border. Click here for the whole story.


The Washington Post’s Jason Samenow, ahead of the U.N. climate report, has a plea to “debate this issue constructively and avoid name-calling.”

The Houston Chronicle looks at recent trends in the use of natural gas for electricity.

The Wall Street Journalexplores how China is changing the world’s energy equation.

Quartzexplores the connection between climate change and a giant hornet plague in China.

Please send tips and comments to Ben Geman, ben.geman@thehill.com

Follow E2 on Twitter: @E2Wire, @Ben_Geman