Roundup of climate, energy news: April 5
The Climate Action Alliance of the Valley (CAAV) is a non-profit, grassroots group of volunteers in the Central Shenandoah Valley. We produce “The Weekly Roundup of Climate and Energy News”. Here is an excerpt from a recent Roundup. For an archive of prior posts, visit the CAAV website.
Politics and Policy
The COVID-19 global pandemic has forced postponement of COP26 scheduled for November in Glasgow, Scotland. Its COP26 was to have been on new pledges for greenhouse reductions by the participating countries. As Bloomberg Green warned, postponing COP26 may reduce political pressure for nations to stiffen their goals to cut greenhouse gases. However, others thought that the delay would allow world leaders to recalibrate their plans in light of the coronavirus pandemic and avoid the uncertainty surrounding the next U.S. presidential election.
Inside Climate News published “Polluting Industries Cash-In on COVID, Harming Climate in the Process.” House Democrats have not given up on using green infrastructure projects to stimulate the economy, despite Republican pushback. Barclays has pledged to align all of its financing activities with the goals and timelines of the Paris Climate Agreement, starting with the energy and power sectors. At Gizmodo, Yessenia Funes examined whether the climate movement could successfully reimagine itself in a time of pandemic.
The Trump administration weakened one of the nation’s most aggressive efforts to combat climate change, releasing new fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks, handing a victory to the oil industry. Inside Climate News called the action the “largest anti-climate rollback ever”. David Roberts provided some history on the change at Vox. California announced it would sign a deal with a fifth automaker to produce cars meeting stricter standards. Reuters reported on the expected court challenge to the announcement, saying it “could delay implementation until after the 3 November election”.
Rob Jackson, chair of the Global Carbon Project, said CO2 emissions could fall by more than 5% year-on-year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, although others warned that without structural change, emission declines could be short-lived and have little impact on the CO2 in the atmosphere. The COVID-19 outbreak came at a particularly critical time for the EU, which had just started its push toward net-zero by 2050, raising the question of whether their green transition will survive the pandemic. Dan Gearino provided answers to seven questions about how the pandemic will influence the clean energy transition in the U.S. At E&E News, Adam Aton sought to answer the question “Does climate change still matter in the election?”
Climate and Climate Science
A review article published in the journal Nature concluded that despite the damage that has been done to Earth’s oceans, they are sufficiently resilient to recover by 2050 provided certain actions are taken, particularly on climate change. Rising ocean temperatures could have pushed the world’s tropical coral reefs over a tipping point where they are hit by bleaching on a “near-annual” basis, according to Mark Eakin of NOAA. The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season could see a greater than average number of major hurricanes because of warmer seas and favorable weather patterns, forecasters from Colorado State University’s Tropical Meteorology Project said.
A research paper in Global Change Biology reported on the biological impacts of the first recorded heat wave in East Antarctica, which occurred January 23-26, 2020 at Casey Research Station. A study published in Nature Geoscience found that melting sea ice in Antarctica is influencing weather patterns as far away as the equatorial Pacific, warming ocean surface temperatures, delivering more rain, and potentially creating El Niño-like effects.
At Yale Environment 360, Gabriel Popkin addressed the question “Can ‘Carbon Smart’ Farming Play a Key Role in the Climate Fight?
Reuters reported that the oil refining industry will need to cut output by 30% or more in response to declining demand as the world reacts to the coronavirus pandemic. The International Energy Agency said the oil industry is facing “a shock like no other in its history” from the combined effects of the oil price war and the pandemic. Texas oil regulators may hold a hearing in April on whether to take the historic step of curbing the state’s oil production amid the global market collapse.
A TC Energy spokesman told The Hill that pre-construction activities on the Keystone XL pipeline have been ongoing for several weeks and the company expects to begin building the pipeline this spring. Seven Texas oil and gas industry associations and approximately 40 Texas-based producing companies announced Tuesday the formation of a new coalition to address flaring and methane emissions.
BloombergNEF issued a new report entitled “Hydrogen Economy Outlook.” It concluded that a move toward a H2 economy using clean H2 could reduce up to 34% of industrial and fossil fuel-caused greenhouse gas emissions. The report found that governments need to provide $150 billion of subsidies over the next decade to scale up the technology. Also, a new report from Rocky Mountain Institute concluded that industrial H2 applications to replace fossil fuels will be essential for reaching net-zero carbon emissions targets for 2050.
Offshore wind in the U.S. will exceed 1 GW of capacity by 2024 and add more than 1 GW annually by 2027, according to a report by Navigant Research, depending on approvals from the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.
One improvement that would advance the sale of electric vehicles is a reduction in charging time. Several battery manufacturers are developing technologies to do that. An article in Wired explains how. California-based startup Ubiquitous Energy has developed transparent solar cells to create its ClearView Power windows, a kind of “solar glass” that can turn sunlight into energy without blocking the view.
Systems-thinker John Harte provided a roadmap on how we can use the same interconnectedness that is spurring catastrophe to instead promote health and sustainability. Providence, RI, issued a climate change resilience plan that melds carbon neutrality by 2050 with specific targets to cut direct emissions in the most polluted communities and slash child asthma, a model that other cities should follow as they seek environmental justice. The April issue of Wired is devoted to the climate crisis and how we will solve it. The editor’s introduction to the issue can be found here. The plastics industry advocated for recycling despite knowing the process was not effective in order to sell more plastic products, a new investigative partnership between NPR and Frontline has found. The BBC’s Justin Rowlatt wrote an introspective essay accompanied by amazing photos after his visit to Antarctica.
Joy Loving edited the latest Roundup prepared by Les Grady, a Rockingham County resident and Member of CAAV’s Steering Committee.