From the Headlines- Nov 28 – Dec 2

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The next migration: University of Michigan researchers created a web-based tool to help residents, city planners, engineers, researchers, and policymakers plan for future scenarios where the Great Lakes states absorb climate migrants in coming years. “While we do not know if people will come, how many, who they might be and where they might settle, it is important that Great Lakes communities prepare and plan for a potential future that includes new residents,” said Derek Van Berkel, assistant professor at the U-M School for Environment and Sustainability and lead author of the commentary. The tool considers 15 social vulnerability indicators and allows users to zero in on census tracts to explore the impact of future migrations. “Without careful recognition of how responses to migration might further exacerbate inequality and climate vulnerability affecting [Great Lakes] urban communities, cities may move even farther from realizing a sustainable and just future for both current residents and future in-migrants,” according to an associated paper. (Press release)

Tied-up in court: Democrats gained control of the governorship and both houses of the legislature in this year’s midterms, but that’s unlikely to affect the fate of the Line 5 oil and gas pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac. Experts say federal courts and international diplomats will likely have the final say over the pipeline’s future. Nick Schroeck, an environmental law expert at the University of Detroit Mercy, says lawmakers may be able to exert some influence by pressuring pipeline operator Enbridge with new insurance rules or changing siting requirements for pipelines. However, there may be little appetite to act on the issue because some unions support the plan to move the pipeline into a tunnel under the straits, and these groups reliably support Democrats. Still, Sean McBrearty, coordinator for the anti-Line 5 group Oil & Water Don’t Mix, says federal regulators from the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration may have cause to shut down Line 5 on the grounds that its violating Michigan state law and trespassing on land owned by the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa in Wisconsin. (Bridge)

Kentucky of the future: This year’s ultra-warm Thanksgiving was likely a portent of things to come as climate change is causing Michigan’s fall seasons to heat up more quickly than other times of the year. According to data from Climate Central, Grand Rapids will have Thanksgivings that are two degrees warmer than 2016 levels by 2050, while temperatures in 2100 will be six degrees warmer than 2050. By that point, Grand Rapids will have Thanksgiving weather similar to Lexington, Kentucky, and Detroit’s weather will be closer to Evansville, Indiana. (MLive)

A list: Ann Arbor was included on a list of 122 global cities regarded as leaders in fighting climate change. The environmental nonprofit CDP also includes Columbus, Indianapolis and New York City among the “A-List cities it believes are taking exceptional climate mitigation and adaptation measures. “We have a plan to transform our community to carbon neutrality in a way that is equitable, urgent, and effective,” said Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor. “We recognize that it is our moral obligation to do our part.” Cities on CDP’s A-List must have a published climate action plan, climate risk and vulnerability assessments, a city-wide emissions inventory, and established targets for emissions reduction and renewable energy. Environmental advocates have begun to look at how Ann Arbor’s recently passed climate millage, which will support the city’s A2Zero climate plan, could be a model for similar action in places like Royal Oak. (MLive, Detroit News)

Loss and damage: Despite widespread criticism that the COP27 climate summit failed to address emissions driving the climate crisis, a notable achievement was made by establishing a “loss and damage” fund to help countries in the Global South respond to climate-fueled disasters. The United States and other wealthy nations resisted such a move, perhaps fearing that it would open them up to liability for damages that could amount to as much as $580 billion annually by 2030. But, developing nations were joined by China to present a united front at COP27 and demand a loss and damage fund. The European Union eventually came on board with a proposal for a fund with a broad donor base that includes wealthy countries, wealthier developing nations, and emerging economies. This newfound alliance compelled the U.S. to drop its opposition, and a deal emerged at the end of the conference. Yet, the deal sidesteps the crucial work of determining how much countries will contribute and if China, a “developing” country that is also the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gasses, will pay into the fund. “People needed it years ago,” said Harjeet Singh, the head of global political strategy at the Climate Action Network. “However, it does speak to people’s power and all the pressure that came from the outside on both developing and developed countries. That made it happen, and that is something to be celebrated.” (Grist)


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