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Cement could be greener, but will it?

https://airclim.org/acidnews/cement-could-be-greener-will-it

Between 1,500 and 1,600 million tons of CO₂ was emitted from the cement process in 2018, equal to Russia’s total CO₂ emissions. Another 1,000 million tons may be emitted from fuels.

Concrete is a widely used construction material that consists of sand and pebbles glued together with cement.

That cement is made from limestone. The lime is heated to around 1450ºC, driving the CO₂ out of the stone and transforming carbonate into oxide. This cement is called Portland Cement, after the Portland quarry in Dorset on the Jurassic Coast in England from which it was first produced in 1824. Since then, the remains of ichthyosaurs have been used to build houses and roads. It is usually heated with coal, another fossil, derived mainly from plants that grew in the Devonian era.

Fossil, fossil.

Concrete is a versatile material, inexpensive and predictable. It does not catch fire or mould. If reinforced, it is very strong, and provides some insulation.

But there are alternatives.

The fuel used for heating can be switched from coal to gas, waste, biomass or to electric heating.

Whichever fuel is chosen, the roasting of lime still produces CO₂.

But concrete is not the only construction material. President Macron has ordered that new public buildings financed by the French state must contain 50 per cent wood or other organic material (such as hemp or straw) by 2022.

Wood can be used for load-bearing joists and for exterior walls, even on tall buildings. An 18-storey timber building was completed in 2019, north of Oslo.

When biomass is used for vehicle fuel or heating fuel, the carbon goes back into the air. When wood is used for construction, the carbon is stored for as long as the building stands.

The construction industry could in principle require other building materials or at least lower-carbon cement. But they usually don’t, as the CO₂ from cement is not included in the environmental reports of the construction companies. Skanska, the fifth biggest construction company in the world, does not even mention cement under https://group.skanska.com/ sustainability/green/priority-areas/carbon/.

Concrete is used in the foundations of buildings, where its function is to be heavy, to keep the building in place. Part of the foundation can be stone, such as granite. Wind power foundations can substitute concrete for rock, or be anchored directly to the rock.

Foam glass can provide insulation and is at least as moisture resistant as concrete.

Concrete reinforced with steel bars uses another property of Portland cement, its high alkalinity, which protects the iron from corrosion. If the iron is allowed to oxidise it will expand and create cracks in the concrete, and then widen those cracks.

If other materials are used as reinforcement, such as glass fibre, carbon fibre, plastic fibre, stainless steel or even cellulose, there is no need for an alkaline environment.

Bridges can be built of steel which – unlike concrete – is easily recyclable. They can sometimes be made of composites, i.e. plastics, which are much lighter than concrete.

Even if concrete is preferred, its carbon footprint can vary widely.

The Pantheon in Rome was constructed 1900 years ago using low-carbon concrete made from volcanic ash. (It was naturally not reinforced, so it did not rust and crack.)

Volcanic ash can be used as an additive to Portland cement, up to 50 per cent according to MIT¹. Slag from steel production and fly-ash from coal power have long been used as “supplementary cementitious materials” blended into Portland cement.

But there is much more slag and much more ash available. There are more sources: aluminium dross, waste incineration slag, rice hull ash, silica fume, all of which have high alkalinity and can be reinforced with steel.

Why is this largely unquantified source of low-carbon cement not used?

The construction industry is not very innovative by nature. It is much less dynamic than the engineering industry, where productivity and product development have been much faster. (Just look at cars.)

It is difficult to build a house; many things can go wrong, and every change means taking risks. The risk of delays, the risk of later collapse or slow deterioration, risks to health at work, as well as subsequent health risks for the users of the building.

Logistics is complicated, so it is easier to use few, well-defined and well-known materials. Ash from industrial by-products may contain hazardous metals.

Sweden used large quantities of “blue concrete” gypsum boards for several decades. They were effectively a by-product from uranium mining, and emit radon, which caused thousands of deaths due to lung cancer, and will cause many more. This was a risk that should have been foreseen.

But a building material that is unfit in one place may be perfectly acceptable somewhere else. Living-room walls, bridges, rail sleepers, parking lots, harbours, airstrips … they all have different requirements regarding toxicity, strength, resistance to rain and salty winds etc.

With more detailed specifications for each use, the CO₂ footprint can be reduced by using more substitutes for Portland cement, which often require less cement per ton of concrete.

Why has this not happened? The answer is simple: it is cheap because the price does not include its environmental costs.

In the EU, the cement industry is part of the °C trading system. Sort of. It gets free allocations, i.e. it is paid back for all its emissions. In 2018, the cement industry received 114 million tons of free allocations

and emitted 111 Mt. Some plants actually pay for some of their emissions, but over-allocation is normal. The allocation is (in theory) benchmarked in line with the 10 per cent best performers, but this obviously does not work in practice. It is justified on the grounds of carbon leakage, i.e. the threat that if Europe and cement producers had to pay for their emissions, they would be at a disadvantage to outside competition.

The evidence for such a threat is slim². Cement is a cheap, voluminous product which is normally not transported very far. A Sandbag report summed it up “For cement, free allocation is a solution to a problem that does not exist since the sector has experienced no carbon leakage.” ³

Sandbag has noted that the industry’s carbon intensity rose between 2005 and 2014 and that the present system “offers inadequate short- and long-term incentives to reduce carbon emissions. It … makes investment in low-carbon cement unattractive.”

The cement industry – Cembureau and individual companies – has lobbied hard in Brussels and elsewhere, with great success. They lobby hard because they need to. Cement factories are usually built close to quarries. They use big mining, big kilns, big harbours and big ships. They can’t move. They can’t do anything else. So they will use all their market power and political influence to keep things as they are as long as possible. As things stand, they will keep free allocations through 2030.

As the climate debate increasingly focuses on 1.5 degrees C, the cement industry has to find some context where Portland cement can appear Paris-compatible.

How could that be done?

The International Energy Agency relies on CCS for 83 per cent of cumulative emissions reductions in the cement sector in its Energy Technology Perspectives 2017.

CCS features high on Cembureau’s low carbon web page⁴. This is in fact the only way they address the core problem, i.e. the CO₂ from lime. The rest are either things that may happen in the future (improved energy efficiency, less carbon-intensive fuels) or are up to somebody else (product efficiency and “downstream”).

Cement plants can produce a large and relatively pure stream of CO₂, so there are few places better for CCS. But nobody believes CCS will pay for itself, at least not Heidelberg Cement, which lobbies for billions of euro in government support in Norway and Sweden. A typical estimate says CCS would increase costs by over 50 per cent⁵.

A Chatham House report⁶ enumerates six alternatives to Portland cement with a potential to mitigate CO₂ by 50–100%.

They are:

Low-clinker Portland (ash, slag etc.)
Geopolymers (clay)
Low-carbonate clinker with calcium silicates
Belite clinkers
Calcium silicate clinkers
Magnesium-based cements
Several are now produced on an industrial scale. Costs vary with location, but are thought to be about the same as now. That would mean that much of the problem could probably be solved surer, cheaper and faster than with CCS.

There are still more options.

Another way to cut the use of cement and its emissions is to use less of it in concrete, with more fine-tuned design of buildings and concrete mixes. Some of the clinker can also be replaced with lime powder, which is mined in the same way but does not go through the kiln.

Nature, and man, have developed many ways to glue sand and pebbles together to make a strong and durable mass. Even living bacteria can be used for this purpose. The cohesion of naturally occurring materials can be quite impressive; 1900 million-year-old Scandinavian granite is still in good shape.

http://news.mit.edu/2018/cities-future-built-locally-available-volcanic-ash-0206
Healy et al https://www.mdpi.com/1996-1073/11/5/1231
https://sandbag.org.uk/project/cement-industry-future/
https://lowcarboneconomy.cembureau.eu/
http://www.energy-transitions.org/better-energy-greater-prosperity
https://reader.chathamhouse.org/making-concrete-change-innovation-low-carbon-cement-and-concrete#

Transition to 100 percent renewable energy is cost efficient

https://airclim.org/acidnews/transition-100-percent-renewable-energy-cost-efficient

Global warming, air pollution and social instability are all challenges that the new roadmaps to a renewable energy system address. A new report from Stanford university1 presents different scenarios in which 143 countries transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050.

Such a transition would reduce energy demand by 57 percent and decrease social costs by 91 percent compared to a business-as-usual scenario (BAU). The 143 nations included represent more than 99.7 percent of the world’s fossil fuel emissions. This transition would make it possible to stay below 1.5 degree of global warming and reduce the air pollution that causes approximately 7 million premature deaths every year.

The calculations conclude that such a development would cost $6.8 trillion/year compared to $17.7 trillion/year for business-as-usual energy systems. These figures account for electricity, heating, cooling, hydrogen generation and storage, and transmission and distribution using annual private market costs. Thus, the transition costs 61 percent less than the BAU energy scenario.

However, the aggregate social cost (private together with health and climate expenses) of BAU energy is $76.1 trillion/year. The net present value of the capital costs of transitioning to renewable energy worldwide is $72.8 trillion for the entire transition period, from now until 2050.

These expenses will be covered by electricity sales and increased job opportunities. The presented Wind-Water-Solar scenario (WWS) creates 28.6 million more full-time jobs than the BAU scenario.

Besides the argument of expense, others argue that the material resources it will take to produce the WWS energy equipment could be a liability in their own right. However, the calculations show that the equipment will only consume 1 percent of the world’s annually produced steel and 0.4 percent of the concrete. The net carbon dioxide emissions from producing the materials needed would be approximately 0.014 percent of the annual current carbon dioxide emissions.

The technology that is needed for a 100 percent renewable energy transition already exist. According to the authors, the transition would be economically and technically feasible by 20302. However due to political, institutional and cultural obstacles 2050 is a more realistic target.

The calculations for how to reach 100 percent renewables by 2050 are made based on the US democratic party’s proposal, The Green New Deal. This plan calls for a launch of a “10-year mobilization” to reduce carbon emissions, by sourcing 100 percent of the country’s electricity from renewable and zero-emissions power, upgrading to more energy-efficient buildings, investing in electric vehicles and high-speed rails etc.

The first step in the study was to project 2016 end-use BAU energy in multiple energy sectors in 143 countries to 2050. The end-use energy of BAU 2050 was then electrified using renewable energy sources. When the 143 countries move from BAU to WWS energy, the 2050 annual average demand for end-use power decreases by 57.1 percent. This reduction is due to: efficiency gains from using WWS electricity over combustion (38.3 percent), eliminating energy in the mining, transporting and refining of fossil fuels (12.1 percent), and improvements in end-use energy efficiency and reduced energy use beyond those in the BAU case (6.6 percent).

Compared to previous studies on strategies and scenarios this study adds important factors and new perspectives. The main differences are the following:

First, socioeconomic costs include external costs not accounted for in market costs or prices. In this case the social costs can be air pollution mortality, morbidity and global warming damage. When it comes to political applicability a social cost analysis is of greater value than a private cost analysis alone as it presents a comprehensive view of the impacts of policies.

Second, other studies use the cost per unit energy rather than the aggregate energy cost per year. This has an important effect as a renewable energy system uses much less end-use energy than a business-as-usual system.

Two main issues that are often brought up in technical discussions on the transition to 100 percent renewable energy are storage and transmission. Regarding energy storage the report finds that the problems have already been solved. As a result of the decrease in energy demand by switching to renewable energy sources (see Figure 1) and developing the technologies already in play, storage will not be a limiting factor.

When it comes to grid congestion and new transmission, the study concludes that both the risk of congestion and the need for additional transmission are lower than previously thought. Even when the most conservative WWS scenario model is used together with the highest costs, the BAU scenario still has the highest expense. However, continent-scale grids will not be a solution for isolated nations such as Japan and South Korea. The study found that even when sticking to grid isolation, the costs of a renewable grid are lower than BAU.

Comprehensive road maps of this type naturally involve some uncertainties and sensitivities. Assuming perfect energy transmission, inconsistencies between load and resource datasets and projecting future energy use are some examples of the uncertainties. By modelling several scenarios with different levels of costs and climate damage several of the uncertainties are addressed. When it comes to accounting for extreme weather events the model includes these by measuring the variability of weather worldwide at a 30-second time resolution.

One of the authors explains3 that the aim of the study is to illustrate that there is no downside to making this transition, and to allay some of the fears that the transition would be too expensive. The evidence shows that the technology, resources and knowledge needed for the 100 percent renewable transition already exist.

Additionally, the study shows that the transition is by far the cheapest option. The risk is rather that these types of transitions will not be implemented quickly enough. They should inspire policymakers, according to the one of the authors, Marc Jacobson: “I hope people will take these plans to their policymakers in their country to help solve these problems.”

Emilia Samuelsson

Figure 1. Timeline for 143 countries, representing more than 99.7 percent of world fossil-fuel CO₂ emissions, to transition from conventional fuels (BAU) to 100 percent wind-water-solar (WWS) in all energy sectors. Also shown are the annually averaged end-use power demand reductions that occur along the way.

Air pollution from fossil fuels costs USD 8 billion a day

https://airclim.org/acidnews/air-pollution-fossil-fuels-costs-usd-8-billion-day

A new study by Greenpeace Southeast Asia and the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air shows that air pollution emitted from burning fossil fuels, primarily coal, oil and gas, causes approximately 4.5 million premature deaths worldwide every year.

The study focusses on particulate matter (PM₂.₅), nitrogen dioxide (NO₂) and ozone (O₃), as elevated levels of these pollutants increase the incidence of chronic and acute illnesses and contribute to millions of hospital visits and billions of work days lost due to illness each year, resulting in high costs to our economies, as well as to environmental damage.

Exposure to PM₂.₅and ozone from fossil fuel emissions is responsible for about 7.7 million asthma-related trips to the emergency room each year, while exposure to fine PM₂.₅ alone from burning fossil fuels is estimated to cause 1.8 billion days of sick leave annually.

It is pointed out that air pollution is a major health threat to children, particularly in low-income countries. Globally, air pollution from fossil fuel-related PM₂.₅ is attributed to the death of about 40,000 children before their fifth birthday and to approximately 2 million preterm births each year.

The analysis incorporates recent research that quantifies the contribution of fossil fuel-related emissions to global air pollution levels, and it uses global datasets on levels of PM₂.₅, NO₂, and O₃ to perform health impact assessments and subsequent cost calculations for the year 2018.

Exposure to PM₂.₅ from fossil fuels was found to be responsible for the premature deaths of around 3 million people due to cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease and lung cancer. Moreover, approximately 1 million people die prematurely due to ozone pollution and 500,000 people due to NO₂.

The total economic costs of the health damage are estimated to amount to USD 2,900 billion in 2018, equivalent to USD 8 billion per day. The report has an appendix providing both cost and mortality data country-by-country. When looking at individual countries, China, the US and India bear the highest cost from fossil fuel pollution, at USD 900 bn, 600 bn and 150 bn respectively.

Across the EU, around 400,000 annual premature deaths are attributed to fossil-fuel-related air pollution. Of these, 295,000 are linked to PM₂.₅ exposure, 69,000 to NO₂ and 34,000 to ozone exposure. The overall economic costs for the EU are estimated at more than USD 500 billion. Country-by-country data for EU member states are shown in the table.

The authors of the study argue that the solution is to rapidly phase out the use of fossil fuels, which would simultaneously tackle both the air pollution crisis and the climate emergency, and the report lists some good examples of action taken in the transport and energy sectors.

“This is a problem that we know how to solve,” said Minwoo Son, clean air campaigner at Greenpeace East Asia. “By transitioning to renewable energy sources, phasing out diesel and petrol cars, and building public transport. We need to take into account the real cost of fossil fuels, not just for our rapidly heating planet, but also for our health.”

Christer Ågren

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Waste-to-Energy: A Climate Disaster

4 reasons why recycling is better than incineration

The waste hierarchy is the main principle at the cornerstone of the European Union’s waste policy. It establishes the priority order Member States should apply when developing waste management legislation and policy. It envisions that waste should be in the first place prevented, then reused, recycled, processed for energy recovery, and finally disposed of.

https://www.zerowasteeurope.eu/2017/09/4-reasons-why-recycling-is-better-than-incineration/

Unfortunately, although waste prevention represents the top priority of the waste hierarchy, effective waste measures of this kind have rarely been yet developed by Member States. This delay in the implementation of the waste hierarchy principles is in part due to the lack of consistency among national waste policies: on the one hand, there are principles and other non-binding tools to promote more sustainability-oriented practices; on the other hand, Member States are free to subsidise the activity of burning mixed municipal waste, known as incineration.

When waste is not subjected to separate collection, it is called mixed or residual waste. This means that many materials (plastics, paper, organics), which could be recycled if they were separated at the source, are inexorably lost, because they will be burnt into incineration facilities.

The European Parliament is currently amending the European Directive on Renewable Energy, which will be implemented in the following decade. The legislation that emerges from this process will influence the choices of local policy makers and financial investors. This represents a major opportunity to offset unproductive investments and concentrate the efforts on the options that are the most sustainable, the most profitable, and generate the most jobs. In all these aspects, recycling makes much more sense than incineration, and here is why.

1. Recycling saves energy

The practice of incineration is bad for several reasons. On the first hand, it disincentivises citizens to care about what they consume. This is very dangerous in a world where more than 7 billion people live out of finite resources.

Not very long ago, recycling was considered difficult, even impossible, according to the most skepticals. However, nowadays recyclers run a business of millions of euros, while preserving materials in the economic loop. A combination of recycling and composting can save three to four times more energy than an incinerator can produce. 1

Moreover, recycling saves massive amounts of CO2 emissions and, if optimised, it can play key role in meeting the objectives set out in the Paris Agreement to contrast climate change. 2

Finally, when “embedded energy” is taken into account as an indicator (which, unfortunately, is not the case in many Life Cycle Assessments), the amount of energy that a high-quality recycling can potentially saves is astonishing when compared to incineration, as pointed out in a recent study.

2. Recycling is more profitable

Incineration of mixed municipal waste is an expensive practice which requires significant financial investments from local authorities. Unfortunately, the costs to build the facilities and to run them are are covered mainly by public funds with very little private contribution. Therefore, its costs are, in reality, to be paid by the citizens through higher taxes and bills for waste management.

On the contrary, the recycling sector has developed into a successful business. In Germany, its turnover increased by 520 per cent between 2005 and 2009.3 Agreeing to take the path to maximize recycling is particularly important for those countries that joined the EU recently and are currently building their waste management system. They have also the most to gain in terms of jobs and savings.

3. Recycling creates more job

Burning waste requires a lot of money but very little workforce. This means that incineration facilities create almost no jobs.

On the contrary, recycling benefits the whole economy by creatingat least ten times more jobs than landfilling or incineration. 4

Here are a few examples:

at the beginning of the 2000s, in Nova Scotia, Canada, one thousand jobs were created in the collection and treatment of the discarded materials, while keeping the costs at the efficient level.
Recology, San Francisco’s primary recycling, composting and waste company, employs 1000 workers. Mayor Gavin Newsom once said: ”for a growing number of people, recycling provides the dignity of a pay check in tough economic times”.
In 2014, for the city of Treviso, Italy, the public company Contarina’s operational cost were contained and 26 new jobs were created. 5
It is estimated that, in addition to the nearly 400 000 direct jobs brought by the implementation of the existing EU waste legislation, 170 000 more jobs could be created, most of them impossible to delocalise outside the EU, and 30 billion euro could be saved by 2035. 6

When comparing the costs, one can see how good management and recycling save money for the taxpayers and create real and tangible wealth.

4. Recycling is more flexible and dynamic

Finally, the technology involved in incineration is neither efficient nor exempt from problems: in Denmark, the kingdom of incinerators, the sudden breakdown of one of the two incinerators forced the operator to apply for an extraordinary permit to store huge quantities of waste. Needless to say, the breakdown costed approximately €15 million to the operator who will likely swap the bill to the taxpayers.

Incinerators are not flexible. This means that, in order to deliver a sound economic profit, they need from 40 to 50 years of activity, without taking into account the management costs. In 1998, when the UK’s Kent County entered into a twenty-five-year contract to burn waste, it thought it was making a wise economic move. But now, as the recycling economy has vastly improved, the County is losing an estimated €1.5 million a year.7 Rather than selling its recyclables for reuse, which would be both economically and environmentally efficient, it must send those valuable resources up in smoke. That is an unfortunate situation that will persist until the contract expires.

On the contrary, re-use and recycling activities are not only environmentally friendly, but they also deliver a far better result from the economic and social point of view.

Nevertheless, because of misconceptions and sometimes poorly transparent decision making process, incineration still represent a serious threat, while every year less than 40% of European waste is recycled or re-used. The best way to invert this trend is to implement effective source separation (of waste) and separate collection schemes. By doing that, it is possible to boost the percentage of recycling and the quality of recyclates, thus creating an added value for society and the environment, and finally moving beyond the practice of mixed waste incineration for good.

1 J. Morriss and D. Canzonieri, Recycling versus Incineration: An Energy Conservation Analysis, Seattle, Sound Resource Management Group, 1993.
2 E. Katrakis, Time to make a decisive difference for recycling in Europe, The European Files, N. 44, Page 15, December 2016.
3 K. Florenz, Time for Change, The European Files, N. 44, Pp 9-11, December 2016.
4 P. Connet, The Zero Waste Solution. Untrashing the Planet One Community at a Time, Paul Connet, 2013.
5 J.M. Simon, Case Study #4.The Story of Contarina, 2015
6 D.C. Crespo, Ambition and realism – key ingredients for a future-oriented waste policy, The European Files, N. 44, P. 8, December 2016.

7 P. Connet, The Zero Waste Solution. Untrashing the Planet One Community at a Time, Paul Connet, 2013.

Rising Seas Spark Tobacco-Style Lawsuits in California

Several flood-prone municipalities in California filed first-of-their-kind lawsuits against fossil fuel companies this week as they attempt to recoup the cost of coping with rising seas.

http://www.climatecentral.org/news/rising-seas-climate-lawsuits-california-21627

The suits point to indisputable climate science and decades of industry efforts to mar that science. Experts likened the legal complaints to those brought against the tobacco industry in decades past, which succeeded by alleging the use of anti-science tactics to mask the dangers of their products.

The new lawsuits come as 21 young Americans pursue a federal case in Oregon that alleges the U.S. government is violating their rights by failing to take far-reaching measures against global warming. A similar case previously failed in a different federal court.

“This is the next stage in climate change liability litigation,” said Tracy Hester, an environmental law lecturer at the University of Houston. “The first set of cases were all posted in federal court, and as a result they were pretty constrained.”

The sea level rise lawsuits were filed in state superior courts by the oceanfront city of Imperial Beach in southern California and by Marin and San Mateo counties in northern California. Those counties face severe impacts from rising seas on dual fronts: increased erosion and flooding risks at the Pacific Ocean and flooding along the shores of San Francisco Bay.

“It’s time to hold the fossil fuel producers accountable,” said David Pine, a local elected official in San Mateo. “San Mateo County has already incurred considerable expenses in planning for and adapting to the impacts of sea level rise, so we seek damages from the companies to help us pay.”

Although the municipalities face “significant hurdles” in the cases, they have a better chance of success now than would have been the case before decades of industry obfuscation of climate science had been laid bare in the pages of InsideClimate News and elsewhere, said Michael Burger, executive director of Columbia University’s Sabin Center for Climate Change Law.

“The entire framing of the lawsuit is much closer to the tobacco litigation than anything we’ve seen before,” Burger said. “It makes use of all of the information that’s been coming to light over the last several years about the extent of industry research into climate change, and the vast network of think tanks and lobbyists that were deployed to create smokescreens.”

The lawsuit names Chevron, Phillips 66, Arch Coal and dozens of other energy companies as defendants, stating they’re collectively responsible for a fifth of global greenhouse gas pollution released since the mid-1960s. ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell are also being targeted in federal court by the nonprofit Conservation Law Foundation, which alleges rising sea levels have worsened water pollution from some of the energy companies’ facilities in New England.

The companies “have known for decades” that climate change from their products “could be catastrophic and that only a narrow window existed to take action before the consequences would not be reversible,” the California lawsuits state. “They have nevertheless engaged in a coordinated, multi-front effort to conceal and deny their own knowledge of those threats.”

Pollution from fossil fuels produced by the companies has “substantially contributed” to “dire effects” including rising temperatures, more extreme weather and rising sea levels, the lawsuits state — with county residents and taxpayers forced to “suffer the consequences.”

Seas rose worldwide more than five inches last century. The effects of rising temperatures caused by fossil fuel pollution and deforestation are causing seas to rise 50 percent faster now than 20 years ago, leading to frequent flooding around the U.S. and the world.

Natural cycles have temporarily limited sea level rise along the West Coast in recent decades but cities, residents and infrastructure are already being affected. Local officials warn 5,000 acres of land in Marin County, including 1,300 parcels of property and 700 buildings, could be vulnerable to floodwaters in the coming decades.

“I’m all about public education — how do we get our residents engaged on this issue, and then how do we adapt to climate change?” said Kathrin Sears, a local elected official in Marin who works on regional efforts to cope with rising seas through marsh restorations and other efforts.

“How do we move forward? How do we hold accountable companies who are really significantly responsible for these sea-level rise impacts?” Sears said. “This lawsuit against the fossil fuel industry was really just a logical next step.”

The energy companies haven’t commented publicly on the new lawsuits, though they have previously denied being deceptive about climate science. Western States Petroleum Association attorney Oyango Snell said in a brief statement that the group is “aware of the lawsuit and monitoring the situation” but, “as a matter of policy, we don’t comment on active litigation.”