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Here's what happened on Day 5 of the U.N.'s COP27 climate talks

Workers at a coal mine in Ukraine start their shifts. Russia's invasion of Ukraine disrupted global supplies of fossil fuels and led to more reliance on coal for electricity in some countries.
Claire Harbage
Workers at a coal mine in Ukraine start their shifts. Russia's invasion of Ukraine disrupted global supplies of fossil fuels and led to more reliance on coal for electricity in some countries.

The war in Ukraine is driving a new push for fossil fuels, putting climate goals at risk

With the war in Ukraine disrupting natural supplies to Europe, many countries have been scrambling to replace gas exports coming from Russia, often from nations much farther away. Those gas supplies are super-cooled into a liquid that can be loaded onto tanker ships. The tankers dock in the importing countries at huge facilities that turn their cargo into gas again to send through pipelines.

Since the invasion of Ukraine, 26 of these massive facilities have been announced in the European Union, according to a new report from Climate Action Tracker, a climate think tank,.

Extracting more natural gas to offset the losses from Russia could lock in fossil fuel use for decades. If the proposed terminals and others under construction now around the world come online, they could more than double the emissions from natural gas by 2030, according to the report. That could jeopardize any commitments that governments make in the COP27 negotiations to rein in the pollution driving global warming.

To keep the world's goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius within reach, there should be no investment in new fossil fuel supplies, the International Energy Agency said.

Members of Congress start to arrive

Nancy Pelosi arrived in Egypt with a delegation of 13 other House Democrats, including the current chairs of multiple committees that work on climate policy.

A delegation of Congressional Republicans are enroute to the talks as well.

Congress passed a massive spending bill that puts more than $1.2 trillion toward infrastructure, including rebuilding roads and bridges to be more resilient to climate change, putting more electric vehicles on the road, upgrading public transit and expanding clean sources of electricity.

But control of Congress is still up in the air after Tuesday's election, and the future of U.S. spending on climate change also hangs in the balance. Among other policies, Republican lawmakers have argued against government funding of renewable energy, and in favor of investments in natural gas and other fossil fuels.

Scientists say reliance on fossil fuels needs to plummet immediately in order to avoid catastrophic global warming later this century.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., walks through the COP27 U.N. Climate Summit.
Peter Dejong / AP
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., walks through the COP27 U.N. Climate Summit.

White House calls for federal contractors to disclose climate information

The Biden administration wants big federal contractors to publicly disclose information about their greenhouse gas emissions and the financial risks they face from climate change, and to set targets for cutting emissions.

The U.S. government is the world's largest buyer of goods and services, the White House said, and the proposed rule would make federal supply chains more efficient and resilient to the impacts of global warming.

"Suppliers understand that you cannot manage what you don't measure — tracking emissions and setting and meeting targets can increase resilience and reduce costs," the White House said in a statement.

The administration made the announcement a day before President Joe Biden is scheduled to speak at the United Nations' annual climate conference in Egypt.

Under the proposed rule, the largest federal contractors — those with annual contracts of more than $50 million — would have to disclose emissions from their own operations and from the energy they buy, as well as certain emissions from their customers and suppliers. They would also have to provide information about their climate-related financial risks, and set science-based targets for cutting emissions.

Companies with annual contracts of $7.5 million to $50 million would only have to provide information about the emissions from their own operations and from their energy purchases. Companies with smaller contracts would be exempt.

"With this proposed rule, the Administration is providing a valuable model for other stakeholders as it becomes increasingly important for governments and corporations to provide visibility into their climate risks and resilience across their supply chains," Pankaj Bhatia, global director of the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, said in a statement.

However, the proposal is likely to face pushback, says Arthur Wheaton, director of labor studies at Cornell University's School of Industrial and Labor Relations.

"The big question is how the administration will monitor and enforce these restrictions," Wheaton said in a statement.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has proposed its own rule to require companies to disclose information about climate-related risks and greenhouse gas emissions. That proposal has faced fierce corporate opposition.

Climate news from the actor formerly known as Rainn Wilson

Actor Rainn Wilson, who is most famous for his role as Dwight Schrute in the U.S. version of the television show The Office, says he has changed his name.

He says he now goes by Rainnfall Heat Wave Extreme Winter Wilson.

In a video, Wilson says his goal is to draw attention to the effects of climate change in the Arctic. Indeed, more variable and extreme rain and heat waves are wreaking havoc in the Arctic, where temperatures are rising about four times faster than the global average.

Wilson also suggested new climate-related names for other celebrities, such as:

  • Cardi the Arctic B. Melting
  • Jack Black Carbon Is Killing Us
  • Ty-phoons Are Increasing Burrell
  • Amy Poehler Bears Are Endangered
  • Harrison Why Not Drive an Electric Ford
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    Rebecca Hersher (she/her) is a reporter on NPR's Science Desk, where she reports on outbreaks, natural disasters, and environmental and health research. Since coming to NPR in 2011, she has covered the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, embedded with the Afghan army after the American combat mission ended, and reported on floods and hurricanes in the U.S. She's also reported on research about puppies. Before her work on the Science Desk, she was a producer for NPR's Weekend All Things Considered in Los Angeles.
    Lauren Sommer covers climate change for NPR's Science Desk, from the scientists on the front lines of documenting the warming climate to the way those changes are reshaping communities and ecosystems around the world.
    Michael Copley
    Michael Copley is a correspondent on NPR's Climate Desk. He covers what corporations are and are not doing in response to climate change, and how they're being impacted by rising temperatures.