Why do we care so much about climate change? With Pilgrim, we have long argued that the effect of climate change patterns (e.g., rising sea levels and groundwater tables, warming sea water and air temperatures, increasing intensity of storms and related storm surges) are increasing risks to safety and environmental health. While Pilgrim is operating, these patterns threaten the facility’s cooling system that is essential to normal (and safe) operations and are likely to cause flooding events that will have site-wide impacts. As the plant moves into decommissioning, we also have concerns about significant risks to the stability of dry cask nuclear waste storage facility being constructed at a relatively low elevation and too close to the shoreline. Further, Pilgrim’s decommissioning could be deferred for up to 60 years – meaning contaminates in groundwater and soils could further flush into the Bay before full cleanup can occurs.

The Paris Climate Agreement was adopted this past Saturday by 190 countries. It’s a big deal, and a great step in the right direction. But it’s important to remember that this Agreement does not by any means solve the problem – it’s only an important first step in dealing with excess emissions and slowing the rate of global warming. Right now, there are already risks posed by climate patterns to Pilgrim’s infrastructure and contamination that need to be dealt with seriously and swiftly.

Read a summary below of what made it into the Paris Climate Agreement. This overview comes from the Associated Press. Read the original article here.

Paris climate agreement: All you need to know

December 13, 2015, The Associated Press

U.N. climate talks reached a milestone Saturday when more than 190 countries adopted the first accord asking all countries to join the fight against global warming. Here are some of the key elements of the deal:


The long-term objective of the agreement is to make sure global warming stays “well below” 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) and to “pursue efforts” to limit the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit). Temperatures have already increased by about 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) since pre-industrial times. To achieve that goal, governments pledged to stop the rise in heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions “as soon as possible.” By some point after 2050, the agreement says, man-made emissions should be reduced to a level that forests and oceans can absorb.


In order to reach the long-term goal, countries agreed to set national targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions every five years. More than 180 countries have already submitted targets for the first cycle beginning in 2020. Only developed countries are expected to slash their emissions in absolute terms; developing nations are “encouraged” to do so as their capabilities evolve over time. Until then, they are expected only to rein in the growth of emissions as their economies develop.


The initial targets won’t be enough to put the world on a path to meet the long-term temperature goal. So the agreement asks governments to review their targets in the next four years and see if they can “update” them. That doesn’t require governments to deepen their cuts. But the hope is that it will be possible for them to do so if renewable energy sources become more affordable and effective.


There is no penalty for countries that miss their emissions targets. But the agreement has transparency rules to help encourage countries to actually do what they say they will do. That was one of the most difficult pieces to agree on, with China asking for softer requirements for developing countries. The agreement says all countries must report on their emissions and their efforts the reduce them. But it allows for some “flexibility” for developing countries that “need it.”


The agreement says wealthy countries should continue to offer financial support to help poor countries reduce their emissions and adapt to climate change. It also encourages other countries to pitch in on a voluntary basis. That paves the way for emerging economies such as China to contribute, even though it doesn’t require them to do so. Actual dollar amounts were kept out of the agreement itself, but wealthy nations had previously pledged to provide $100 billion annually in climate finance by 2020.


In a victory for small island nations threatened by rising seas, the agreement includes a section recognizing “loss and damage” associated with climate-related disasters. The U.S. long objected to addressing the issue in the agreement, worried that it would lead to claims of compensation for damage caused by extreme weather events. In the end, the issue was included, but a footnote specifically stated that loss and damage does not involve liability or compensation.