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This week, we break down what’s driving this year’s COP27 international climate conference, and how the U.S.’s climate package is shaping the conversation.

A man stands at a lectern in front a bold blue background
Rwanda’s President Kagame speaks at COP27 Credit: Paul Kagame / Flickr

COP27 opened this past weekend with a stark message from United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres to countries as they fight climate change: “cooperate or perish.”

It’s a warning that underscores just how hard it’s historically been to get world leaders to work together to reduce fossil fuel emissions, and that will likely continue as they consider these big topics and others over the next two weeks: 

  • Climate reparations: For centuries, wealthy countries like the U.S. have spewed the majority of the world’s fossil fuel emissions. And as those greenhouse gases exacerbate climate disasters like heat waves and floods, the responsible nations are able to prepare and rebuild while poorer countries are left behind. Discussions of making bigger emitters pay for “loss and damage” they brought upon smaller countries are underway, but seem unlikely to make significant progress.
  • Updated climate pledges: Leaders agreed at 2021’s COP to “revisit and strengthen” their national climate targets over the next year, but just a handful did. Current pledged emissions cuts still leave the world far short of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
  • Methane emissions cuts: Countries are planning to update a commitment made last year to reduce emissions of methane, a super-potent greenhouse gas.

Also in the eyes of COP27 attendees: The U.S.’s climate package passed this summer. Some U.S. allies say its provisions boosting domestic clean energy and electric vehicle production violate trade agreements. Others are eager to see how last night’s still-unsettled midterm elections will affect the balance of power in Congress and therefore the implementation of the climate spending deal.

More clean energy news

🔌 A “game-changing” clean energy boost: The White House announces a net-zero initiative that will pour federal funding into research and development of clean fuels, building efficiency, and other “game-changing” clean energy technologies. (E&E News)

🏠 “The things Americans value most are at risk”: Climate change-fueled disasters threaten safe drinking water and food supplies, housing security, infrastructure, and human health, a federal report warns. (Washington Post)

Sponsored – Green Neighbor ChallengeTry a free online toolkit helping U.S. residents find and sign up for green energy programs and efficiency incentives – then challenge family and friends to do the same. Learn why this nonprofit was recently featured in the Star Tribune!

💧 Coal ash puts groundwater at risk: Impoundments storing coal power’s toxic byproduct — coal ash — are contaminating groundwater in violation of federal rules, and at almost half of the locations, owners are refusing to take remedial action, according to a report by environmental groups. (Energy News Network)

☀️ Solar panels’ new lease on life: Researchers predict solar panels will last longer than previously thought, meaning recycling and disposal could be a less immediate problem than a previous study suggested. (Inside Climate News)

🔗 A grid expansion fight’s big implications: A transmission line fight in Maine reveals how hard it’ll be to build out the nationwide grid needed to expand clean energy and transition off fossil fuels. (Grist)

🧹 Cleaning up after drillers: Nonprofits seek to plug oil and gas wells that drillers have abandoned and orphaned, and that federal and state officials fail to address. (High Country News)

🏭 Carbon capture project has a rocky start: Financial challenges plague a $1 billion carbon removal project as its founders’ valuations plummet and a consulting partner faces potential tax fraud and corruption charges. (E&E News)

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Kathryn brings her extensive editorial background to the Energy News Network team, where she oversees the early-morning production of ENN’s five email digest newsletters as well as distribution of ENN’s original journalism with other media outlets. From documenting chronic illness’ effect on college students to following the inner workings of Congress, Kathryn has built a broad experience in her more than five years working at major publications including The Week Magazine. Kathryn holds a Bachelor of Science in magazine journalism and information management and technology from Syracuse University.