Climate Action Alliance of the Valley climate, energy news roundup: Aug. 8

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(© Sean K – stock.adobe.com)

Climate Action Alliance of the Valley, a non-profit, grassroots group of volunteers in the Central Shenandoah Valley, produces The Weekly Roundup of Climate and Energy News to inform legislators and the public.

An excerpt from a recent Roundup follows; full Roundup is on the CAAV website.

Politics and Policy

New polling says Joe Biden’s climate plan is a political winner in four states with competitive Senate races and the presidential contest.  The Washington Post (WP) dissected how that plan came together.  E&E News compiled information about the energy and environment positions of eight vice president contenders.  A letter by over 100 economists states the carbon economy amplifies racial, social, and economic inequities, creating a system fundamentally incompatible with a stable future.

An investor group managing over $16T in assets launched the world’s first step-by-step plan to help pension funds align their portfolios with the Paris Climate Accord.  New York State is collaborating with investor‑owned utilities to assist more than 350,000 low-to-moderate income households lower their energy use.  Pope Francis continued to criticize the world’s governments for their “very weak” response to the climate crisis.  A conservative Christian environmentalist noted some Republicans have gotten serious about climate change.  Former Ohio Republican Governor John Kasich called for action on climate change “for the good of the planet and business.”

Vox’s David Roberts wrote about Saul Griffith’s (Rewiring America) ideas for decarbonizing the U.S. economy, stating: “Despite the titanic effort it would take to decarbonize, the U.S. doesn’t need any new technologies and it doesn’t require any grand national sacrifice.”  E&E News also covered the proposal.  41 states cut their carbon emissions between 2005 and 2017, as their economies grew.  Two climate scientists warned that doom and dismissal are traps that can lead to lack of action on climate change.  Former diplomat Peter E. Harrell noted that President Trump’s use of national security laws to impose tariffs and sanctions created a precedent for a future president to impose tariffs and sanctions to combat climate change.

Virginia’s Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine are again proposing reforms to the federal pipeline review process in response to public complaints surrounding the now‑cancelled Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the still active Mountain Valley Pipeline through Virginia.  The Trump administration is still litigating changes to four major environmental regulations.  If Biden wins the election, he will likely ask the D.C. Circuit to put the suits on hold.

Climate and Climate Science

Duke University Prof. Drew Shindell testified at a House Oversight Committee hearing that, if the global temperature rise is below 2°C, the U.S. could avoid 4.5M premature deaths, 3.5M hospitalizations and emergency room visits, and approximately 300M lost workdays.  To raise awareness about the inequities of extreme heat, the NYT presented a moving photo-essay using photographs from around the world.

An updated NOAA 2020 hurricane forecast calls for 19 to 25 named storms, of which 7 to 11 will likely become hurricanes, including 3 to 6 that could become major hurricanes.  Experts say that the pair of hazards bracketing the country this week, fire on the West Coast and a hurricane on the East, offers a preview of life under climate change: overlapping disasters.

A new study tracked permafrost thaw at several interior Alaska sites, finding significant thaw during rainy summers.  A study found that climate change made the extreme “mass loss” in glaciers in the Southern Alps of New Zealand in 2018 at least 10 times more likely.  A melting glacier as large as a cathedral is at risk of breaking apart due to a heatwave, forcing evacuation of part of an Italian alpine valley.  The last fully intact ice shelf in the Canadian Arctic collapsed, losing more than 40% of its area in just two days at the end of July.

July was the third-hottest on record, all occurring within the last five years.  Extreme droughts are likely to become much more frequent across central Europe.  A cluster of counties on Colorado’s Western Slope and in eastern Utah has warmed more than 2°C, double the global average, and is the largest 2°C hot spot in the Lower 48.

Energy

The world’s fleet of coal-fired power plants has gotten smaller for the first time on record, with more capacity retired in the first half of 2020 than opened.

Globally, the number of public EV charging points now exceeds 1M, having doubled in three years.  ChargePoint raised $127 million to build out a U.S. and European charging network to meet the needs of a fast‑growing global EV fleet.

With Europe and Japan moving to develop green hydrogen as a decarbonization fuel, E&E News examined whether the U.S. should be working to build a green hydrogen infrastructure.  Greentech Media examined who will own the hydrogen future, oil companies or electric utilities.  The U.S. and India launched a new public-private Hydrogen Task Force to boost hydrogen production technologies.  NextEra announced that its subsidiary Florida Power & Light plans to build a 20 MW electrolyzer to produce green hydrogen from water.  Rocky Mountain Institute’s Christian Roselund discussed the implications to the U.S future of hydrogen.  A German hydrogen project near Hamburg will build a 30 MW electrolysis plant to produce green hydrogen for use by a local refinery and to raw materials for project partners.  The UK HyFlyer project is working with Silicon Valley start-up ZeroAvia to develop mid-range passenger planes that fly on electricity from hydrogen-powered fuel cells.

BP said it will transform itself by halting oil and gas exploration in new countries, slashing oil and gas production by 40%, lowering carbon emissions by about 1/3, and boosting capital spending on low-carbon energy tenfold to $5B a year.

GE plans to use IBM’s Summit supercomputer to simulate air currents in a new way, allowing it to enhance the design, control, and operations of future wind turbines.  Led by a Chinese clean energy surge, the offshore wind industry could reach 234 GW by 2030, from a global tally of around 29 GW at the end of 2019.  The University of Maine announced a full-size floating wind turbine should be complete in 2023.  E&E News’ John Fialka discussed problems facing the offshore wind industry; the biggest is establishing a standard for bringing the electricity to shore and tying into the grid.

Potpourri

Snopes provided a detailed analysis of the controversy over Michael Schellenberger’s rescinded article and book, Apocalypse Never.

RepublicEn has a new website, targeting the Eco right.

A new study found the media still disproportionately amplify the views of businesses and coalitions pushing back on climate action.

Five Maine activists shared what motivated them to join the fight on climate change.

Compiled by Les Grady, CAAV Steering Committee

 

 


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