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Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
4:18pm
Tue Apr 19

Pending U.S. Trade Deals Could Gut Environmental Policies, Report Argues

A leading environmental group is sounding the alarm over climate threats posed by pending trade agreements, including the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

TPP is a free trade agreement among the United States and 11 other countries, including Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. The agreement was signed in February and still needs ratification from the U.S. Congress.

In a recent report, the Sierra Club says the TPP and another proposed trade agreement under negotiation between the United States and the European Union, called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), "threaten efforts to keep fossil fuels in the ground."

"Like NAFTA [the North American Free Trade Agreement], the TPP and TTIP would give foreign corporations broad rights, including the right to challenge new fossil fuel restrictions that thwart their 'expectations' for a stable business environment," the report explains. "The trade deals would empower the corporations to bypass U.S. courts and take such challenges to tribunals of three private lawyers, unaccountable to any domestic legal system, under a process known as 'investor-state dispute settlement' (ISDS)."

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
4:22pm
Thu Jan 21

It's Time To 'Accelerate Climate Change Solutions,' Say Enviros In Reaction To 2015's Record High Temps

After 2015 was officially declared the hottest year on record, environmental experts say it's time to step up climate action efforts. 

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
3:50pm
Thu Jul 9, 2015

Retired Military Officers Discuss National Security Implications Of Climate Change

Senior retired military officers with the American Security Project were in Chicago Thursday to call attention to what they say is a grave national security threat — climate change.

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
3:37pm
Mon Jun 22, 2015

The Pope's Climate Change Encyclical 'Raises Urgency' For IL Clean Energy Bill, Advocates Say

After Pope Francis called for climate action in an encyclical on the environment last week, local faith leaders and state Sen. Jacqueline Collins say Illinois lawmakers could help carry out the pope's message by approving a pending clean energy bill.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
12:49pm
Mon Apr 6, 2015

Report: Recent Generations Of Illinoisans Inheriting Warmer, More 'Dangerous' Climate

A new report tracking the effects of climate change over the last five generations of Americans shows young people in Illinois and across the country have inherited a "hotter, more extreme" climate.

For its "Dangerous Inheritance" report, the Environment America Research and Policy Center examined changes in average temperatures, precipitation and sea-level rise over the course of five generations -- from the Baby Boomers to Generation Z, defined as those born between 1995 to 2009. Researchers include climate projections for today's Generation Alpha, or those born between 2010 and 2025.

Younger generations in Illinois and across the country are facing warmer temperatures plus more frequent and extreme storms than when the Baby Boomers were entering adulthood, according to the report.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
12:48pm
Fri Aug 8, 2014

Report: New Nuclear Power Technology Would Siphon Resources Away From Renewable Energy

Promoters of developing mini nuclear reactors claim the new technology would be a potential game changer for the stagnant U.S. nuclear industry and cheaper to construct than traditional, larger reactors. Small modular nuclear reactors, or SMRs, could also play a part in combating climate change by providing a carbon-free energy source and possibly replacing antiquated fossil-fueled power plants, proponents say.

But one nuclear financing expert argues in a new report that SMRs, which have yet to be built in the United States, would be no cheaper than their larger counterparts. Mark Cooper, a senior fellow for economic analysis at the Institute for Energy and the Environment at the Vermont Law School, also warns that SMR development would suck up funding that could otherwise be used for what he says are more attractive energy options like wind and solar.

"Large reactors have never been economically competitive and there is no reason to believe that smaller reactors will fare any better," Cooper said. "Giving nuclear power a central role in climate change policy would not only drain away resources from the more promising alternatives, it would undermine the effort to create the physical and institutional infrastructure needed to support the emerging electricity systems based on renewables, distributed generation and intensive system and demand management."

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
3:17pm
Fri Jul 18, 2014

Chicago Commercial Buildings In Retrofit Program Making Progress To Cut Energy Use

In the first two years of the Chicago Commercial Building Initiative, participating buildings have cut their collective energy use by seven percent compared to their 2010 baseline, officials with the city and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) said Friday.

The seven percent reduction in energy use is the equivalent of avoiding 28,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, or taking some 5,800 cars off the road for a year. 

Over the past two years, the 32 commercial buildings enrolled in the voluntary program reduced their collective energy use by switching to more efficient LED lighting; installing motion sensors connected to heating, cooling and lighting systems; upgrading heating and cooling systems with better ventilation fans and motors; and improving tenants' office-space efficiency.

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