Climate, environment news roundup: June 14
The Climate Action Alliance of the Valley (CAAV), 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.
Here is an excerpt from a recent Roundup; full Roundup is on the CAAV website.
Politics and Policy
Two House committees injected environmental justice into the larger national conversation about racism in America. The Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change heard communities of color suffer disproportionate effects from pollution and the COVID‑19 pandemic. The Natural Resources Committee hosted a forum on post‑pandemic environmentally focused economic growth, touching heavily on racial disparities. Clean energy has produced many new jobs, but there is racial inequity within the industry. The Washington Post reported on the impacts on communities of color of recent Trump administration environmental regulatory cutbacks.
The Yale Program on Climate Change Communication released a new report “Politics & Global Warming” based on their April national survey. Economist Stephanie Kelton, a leading proponent of “modern monetary theory” (MMT), has a new book about it. Brian Kahn interviewed her about how MMT provides a path forward on climate change and other big issues. (MMT is at the heart of the Green New Deal.) Rocky Mountain Institute has a new stimulus strategy with four priorities: create jobs and grow the economy; support public health and reduce air pollution; enhance economic, energy, and climate resilience; and decarbonize. A UC, Berkeley, and GridLab study concluded the U.S. could transition to 90% renewable energy by 2035. The changeover would cost no more than what the utility industry will spend during the next 15 years anyway, create a half million new high value jobs, and reduce today’s wholesale cost of electricity by 13%. Michael Bloomberg argued for leaders who recognize the opportunity to build a better, smarter future and can remake a devastating crisis into a turning point. Dorothy Gambrell and colleagues presented 26 ways to launch a clean energy future out of the pandemic recovery. At Yale Environment 360, Professor David Victor of UC, San Diego, explained why Europe must lead the global green recovery.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards vetoed a bill to stiffen penalties for trespassing on pipelines, levees, and a long list of other facilities in the state.
Recent polling indicatesvoters’ perceived differences between President Trump and former Vice-President Biden on the environment are larger than those over race relations, the economy, and health care. A second term for President Trump would mean a more aggressive dismantling of environmental policy and an expansion of the fossil fuel industry, say energy advisers working closely with the White House. U.S. taxpayers could be responsible for billions of dollars in climate-related property losses as the government backs a growing number of mortgages on homes in the paths of floods, fires, and extreme weather.
Climate and Climate Science
CO2 emissions rebounded world‑wide as lockdown conditions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic have eased. Emissions fell 25% when lockdowns were at their peak, and are still down relative to 2019 levels, but only by 5% on average globally. Global Carbon Project has a graphic of emission reductions. Scientists who sampled dry streambeds at 200 locations around the world were surprised to find significant CO2 emissions from them, independent of location, climate zone, or waterway type.
When we get extended periods of clear blue skies or gray cloudy ones, TV weather may refer to a “blocking” pattern. Carbon Brief examined blocking weather events asking whether climate change causes more of them. Researchers used the emerging science of climate change attribution to determine that at least $67Bn of the damage Hurricane Harvey caused in 2017 can be attributed directly to climate breakdown.
Brazil’s space research agency reported that 3,911 sq. miles of deforestation occurred in the Amazon from August 2018 through July 2019; a rise of 34.4% over the same period a year earlier. Their government renewed for 30 days a presidential decree allowing deployment of the military to combat rising deforestation. Mongabay updated its analysis of forest loss since 2002 based on new 2019 data. As efforts grow to store more CO2 emissions in forests, one overlooked sector — small, family-owned woodlands, which comprise 38% of U.S. forests. A major conservation initiative aims to help these owners manage their lands for maximum carbon storage.
Global investment in new clean energy capacity rose 1% last year to $282.2Bn. 184 GW of new clean energy capacity was added last year, up 12% from 2018. Most clean energy technologies worldwide are not advancing rapidly enough to meet the Paris Climate Agreement goals. Some oil and gas companies report investing in renewables, but this Axios chart shows what is happening.
Inside Climate News presented a detailed examination of Germany’s failure to address CO2 emissions from the transportation sector. Ford Motor Co. plans to have all-electric versions of the Ford F-150 pickup and Ford Transit van to market by mid-2022. The world’s 14 biggest carmakers are on course to miss globally agreed upon climate targets; a leading sustainable finance think tank urged investors to do more to pressure boards to change their production plans. A Chinese company making electric-car batteries for Tesla and Volkswagen is ready to produce a battery lasting 16 years and 1.24 million miles, costing about 10% more than the batteries now inside EVs.
Justin Gerdes’ article outlined the issues associated with transforming buildings to all-electric operation.
The coronavirus pandemic and a very mild winter in the northern hemisphere have put global natural gas demand on course for the biggest annual fall on record. The Energy Information Administration said U.S. electricity consumption will drop by a record 5.7% in 2020 due to business closures for coronavirus-linked lockdowns. Thanks to the pandemic, Britain reached an energy milestone on June 10, going two months without any generation of electricity from burning coal.
Activist Elizabeth Yeampierre sees the fights against climate change and racial injustice as deeply intertwined. Somini Sengupta offered a reading list about climate change and social inequities. Jack Davis reviewed Mario Alejandro Ariza’s new book, Disposable City, Miami’s Future on the Shores of Climate Change. The Sydney film festival included the documentary “The Weather Diaries”, which premiered June 10 at as part of their all-digital on‑demand program (runs until June 21). Emily Atkin at Heated offered the bits from Black Climate Expert Ayana Elizabeth Johnson’s perspective left on the cutting room floor.
Joy Loving edited the latest Roundup prepared by Dr. Les Grady, a Rockingham County resident and Member of CAAV’s Steering Committee