People, planet, and the path ahead

Will Obama goal of 54.5 miles per gallon stick?

In this edition: The EPA seeks to lock in its ambitious fuel-economy target before the presidency changes hands; mayors chart megacity emission cuts; Vietnam battles beach erosion.

What we're writing

President Barack Obama walks down a ramp after delivering a 2011 speech announcing new fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks in Washington.
Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP/File | Caption

EPA aims to preempt Trump on fuel economy

The Environmental Protection Agency is seeking to lock in its goal for US fleetwide fuel economy to reach 54.5 miles per gallon in 2025. It's not everyone's favorite approach to curbing emissions, and a Republican-led Congress may find a way to thwart this 11th-hour move by the Obama administration. But if the target is reached the result could be a significantly lower carbon footprint for America. // Zack Colman

Mayors chart four paths to cut megacity emissions

"Deadline 2020," a report unveiled on Thursday, lays out four paths toward reducing the major role that cities play in greenhouse gases. Which path to pursue depends on a city's wealth and current CO2 emissions.  // Rowena Lindsay

Vietnam battles erosion of beaches – and of tourism

Walking along Cua Dai is like visiting a beach-restoration technology exhibition, with efforts ranging from stone seawalls to fiber-and-sand wave breakers. // Coco Liu

Oklahoma earthquakes wane after wastewater rules

After a sudden increase in earthquakes, which have been linked to oil extraction practices, Oklahoma instituted new limits on wastewater injection. Since then, the quakes have dropped off significantly, according to a new analysis.  // Rowena Lindsay

What we're reading

Can Sahel region restore a 'great green wall'?

A daunting battle against desertification, but with huge promise. Planting trees and crops together can help the land regain its fertility. // Thomson Reuters Foundation 

Peter Thiel’s other hobby is nuclear fusion

A venture capitalist (and Trump supporter) turned energy innovator. // Bloomberg

Bolivian water crisis as glaciers vanish

The armed forces are distributing water to cities, emergency wells are being drilled,. // Climate News Network

Audio: Pave the way for solar roads

If streets need pavement anyway, why not turn that surface into a source of solar power? It's a theory that's being, well, road-tested. // Yale Climate Connections

What's trending

Ivanka Trump, climate czar?

"The issues she’s talking about are ones she’s always talked about.... She is playing a critical role in being able to have issues that moderate and liberal women care about [including climate] and creating a bridge to the other side." // Politico, citing a source "close" to the daughter of President-elect Donald Trump
 

Voter rejection of the elites

"We need to break down ... barriers within and between nations. If we are to stand a chance of doing that, the world’s leaders need to acknowledge that they have failed and are failing the many." // Physicist Stephen Hawking in The Guardian

Cleaner air, safer tuna

"The decline [of mercury levels in Atlantic bluefin tuna] is real. The decline is almost in parallel with declines in mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants and the decline of mercury in the air. It appears that the fish are responding almost in real time. We thought that was pretty exciting.” // Marine scientist Nicholas Fisher, quoted in The Washington Post