Climate action

Written by  //  July 23, 2021  //  Environment & Energy, U.S.  //  Comments Off on Climate action

Amid summer of fire and floods, a moment of truth for climate action
This disastrous summer is yet another portent of what humanity faces in coming decades if the world does not take dramatic steps to protect ecosystems and curb use of fossil fuels, scientists say.
(WaPo) The panicked commuters of Zhengzhou, China, could only stand on seats and cling to poles in a desperate attempt to keep their heads above the muddy torrent this past week, as floodwaters from record-breaking rains inundated the subway system.
On the other side of the planet, in Gresham, Ore., a 61-year-old maker of handcrafted ukuleles slowly died in June as searing temperatures made an oven out of his lifelong home — one of at least 800 victims of what one scientist called “the most anomalous heat event ever observed on Earth.”
Massive floods deluged Central Europe, Nigeria, Uganda and India in recent days, killing hundreds. June’s scorching temperatures, followed by a fast-moving wildfire, erased a Canadian town. More than a million people are close to starvation amid Madagascar’s worst drought in decades. In Siberia, tens of thousands of square miles of forest are ablaze, potentially unleashing carbon stored in the frozen ground below.

19 July
The key to global climate success
Kemal Derviş and Sebastian Strauss
(Brookings/Project Syndicate) Climate change affects different parts of the world differently, and not all countries are equally responsible—both now and historically—for carbon dioxide emissions. These disparities have so far prevented the emergence of an international consensus on how to share mitigation costs fairly. But in the run-up to the United Nations climate-change summit (COP26) in Glasgow in November, recognition of the severity of the global warming threat, coupled with a dramatic reduction in the cost of renewables, is making rapid progress easier. In fact, the emphasis in the climate debate has shifted from the costs of mitigation to the opportunities provided by new technologies.
The race to realize a net-zero world by 2050 remains tight, with different groups of countries moving at varying speeds. But it is becoming increasingly clear that the performance of emerging markets and developing economies (EMDEs) other than China is likely to hold the key to success.
EMDEs must invest heavily in power, transportation, housing, and related sectors to meet the expectations of their still-growing populations, including hundreds of millions of very poor citizens. … Compared to developed countries and China, EMDEs have limited ability to mobilize the long-term upfront finance needed to put them on green growth trajectories. They lack domestic fiscal space and do not qualify for concessional resources from advanced economies, which are mostly reserved for low-income countries.
The only viable solution to this challenge is a lot of long-term international financing for EMDEs, mostly from private sources. Multilateral development banks should facilitate this process by offering to blend in some slightly concessional financing of their own and providing risk-reducing facilities to mobilize private resources. That would require the MDBs to obtain additional shareholder capital as well as permission to use their balance sheets less conservatively. Meanwhile, China, rather than being a net recipient of foreign capital, will be a source of long-term private and public finance for the other EMDEs.

17 July
‘No One Is Safe’: Extreme Weather Batters the Wealthy World
Floods swept Germany, fires ravaged the American West and another heat wave loomed, driving home the reality that the world’s richest nations remain unprepared for the intensifying consequences of climate change.
(NYT) The extreme weather disasters across Europe and North America have driven home two essential facts of science and history: The world as a whole is neither prepared to slow down climate change, nor live with it. The week’s events have now ravaged some of the world’s wealthiest nations, whose affluence has been enabled by more than a century of burning coal, oil and gas — activities that pumped the greenhouse gases into the atmosphere that are warming the world.
… The bigger question is whether the mounting disasters in the developed world will have a bearing on what the world’s most influential countries and companies will do to reduce their own emissions of planet-warming gases. They come a few months ahead of United Nations-led climate negotiations in Glasgow in November, effectively a moment of reckoning for whether the nations of the world will be able to agree on ways to rein in emissions enough to avert the worst effects of climate change.
Deadly flooding, heatwaves in Europe, highlight urgency of climate action
(UN news) Heavy rainfall that has triggered deadly and catastrophic flooding in several western European countries, is just the latest indicator that all nations need to do more to hold back climate change-induced disasters, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Friday.
The agency said that countries including Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands had received up to two months’ rain in two days from 14 to 15 July, on ground that was “already near saturation”.

23 April
4 winners and 4 losers from Biden’s climate leader summit
Winner: Joe Biden. Loser: The coal industry.
(Vox) The biggest news out of the virtual event was the commitments various countries made to reduce their emissions. At the top, Biden formally pledged America would cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 50 to 52 percent relative to 2005 levels by 2030 — the most ambitious target the US has set to date. Still, as Vox’s Umair Irfan laid out, some believe the goal is not big enough given the sheer scale of the current climate crisis and the pace of warming.
Targets announced by other nations were more modest. The big pledge from Chinese President Xi Jinping is to reduce coal consumption between 2026 and 2030. But Xi’s announcement was short on specifics, and China’s overall targets — hitting peak carbon emissions by 2030 before getting to net-zero emissions by 2060 — remained unchanged.
Winner: Climate activists
It’s hard to imagine President Biden choosing to hold this summit or to center his economic agenda on climate change without the persistent pressure of a wide range of climate activists — young and old, in the US and around the world. In the past few years, they have doggedly and persuasively demanded that world leaders increase their ambition and follow through on climate plans.
Biden’s climate summit and the new pledges are examples of the success of applying that pressure.

John Kerry Says Climate Change Is An ‘Existential’ Crisis
(NPR) John Kerry is Biden’s special envoy for climate, a position that involves meeting with countries around the world about efforts to stem emissions.
He calls the threat of climate change “existential.”
“That means life and death. And the question is, are we behaving as if it is? And the answer is no,” Kerry said in an interview on NPR’s All Things Considered.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

At Biden Climate Summit, World Leaders Pledge To Do More, Act Faster
(NPR) Calling climate change “the existential crisis of our time,” President Biden announced an aggressive new plan to reduce the United States’ contribution to global warming during a two-day virtual summit Thursday, and he urged other countries to do the same.
A new report Thursday from the insurance company Swiss Re warns that without action, climate change could reduce global economic output by $23 trillion annually by mid-century.

Earth Day 2021: Canada’s latest budget falls dangerously short on climate action
(The Conversation)  The 724-page federal budget made vital spending commitments to extend supports to Canadians as the pandemic shock waves continue. … But where is the road map to reduce Canada’s carbon emissions? If we are to have a serious chance of meeting net-zero targets by 2050, Canada must phase out fossil fuel production and use, eliminate fossil fuel subsidies and financing, and end all carbon-emitting activity. This is especially true given that Canada provides more public finance to the fossil fuel sector per capita than any other G20 country.

(Tech2) US President Joe Biden has decided to host a meeting [that will begin on 22 April and end on 23 April] with the world’s leaders titled the ‘Leaders Summit on Climate’. It is a two-day conference and has been in the works since he took office on 20 January. Many say that this summit is a precursor to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) that will take place later this year in Glasgow. … The US also want to “reconvene the US-led Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate” that was started by former President Barack Obama in March 2009. It is a forum that gets together the 17 major economies that are responsible for approximately 80 percent of global emissions as well as global GDP.

Carney, Kerry launch global finance plan to boost climate action
(Reuters) While many large banks, insurers and asset managers have started to commit to some form of action, the frameworks used can differ and some are not rooted in climate science or backed up by interim targets between now and 2050.
To help fix the problem, the new group – Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ) – will bring existing net zero initiatives together under one umbrella to help ensure all sub-sector efforts are consistent and ambitious.
“Most fundamentally, GFANZ will act as the strategic forum to ensure the financial system works together to broaden, deepen, and accelerate the transition to a net zero economy.”
Launching the plan on the eve of U.S. President Joe Biden’s Head of State Climate Summit alongside Carney and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Kerry – the U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate – said the world’s biggest financial firms recognised energy transition was a “vast” commercial opportunity.

From Protesting Outside The White House to Working Within (video)
(Amanpour & Co.) Youth activists have been at the very forefront of the fight against the climate crisis, and Jerome Foster II has gone from protesting outside the White House to helping implement change in climate policy from inside. At just 18 years old, Foster is now the youngest member of Biden’s White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council.

EU reaches major climate deal ahead of Biden climate summit
(AP) The European Union has reached a tentative climate deal to put the 27-nation bloc on a path to being “climate neutral” by 2050, with member states and parliament agreeing on binding targets for carbon emissions on the eve of a virtual summit hosted by U.S. President Joe Biden.

13-14 April
‘I’m hopeful’: Jerome Foster, the 18-year-old helping to craft US climate policy
(The Guardian) In a sign of the growing political clout of the youth climate movement that has blossomed around the world in recent years, Foster has been included among a group of advisers to Joe Biden who will inform the US president on issues related to environmental justice, where low-income communities and people of color face the greatest fallout from climate change and pollution.

13 April
BlackRock, Singapore’s Temasek in mammoth climate investing push
New joint venture aims to raise billions of dollars for firms that help reduce dependence on fossil fuels. BlackRock Inc. and Singapore’s Temasek Holdings Pte. formed a new firm, Decarbonization Partners, to take stakes in startups that have the potential to reduce the world’s reliance on fossil fuels and meet the goal of zero-carbon emissions in three decades. … Today, the pools of money dedicated to clean tech are growing, but managers tend to focus either on the bleeding edge of innovation or cash-flowing assets such as solar arrays and wind farms. BlackRock and Temasek are zeroing in on late-stage VC, the point at which startups need greater amounts of capital to manufacture at scale and expand into new markets.

29 March
White House Announces Environmental Justice Advisory Council Members
The advisory council will provide advice and recommendations to the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and the White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council on how to address current and historic environmental injustices, including recommendations for updating Executive Order 12898.

20 March
Youth climate activists are back with new, sharper demands for countries and corporations
The Fridays for Future movement returned to spotlight a dangerous shortfall in climate action.
On Friday, Filipino youth activists stood outside a gleaming office tower with a giant, game show-style check. On it was the amount of financing the multinational bank Standard Chartered has provided to coal companies in the country since 2018, stamped red with the word “cancelled.”
This protest outside the bank’s Manila offices was one of hundreds held in 68 countries on March 19, organized by Fridays for Future, the youth climate activism movement started by Greta Thunberg, an 18-year-old Swede. This time, kids, teens, and adults showed up on the streets and on screens to call out world powers’ “empty promises” to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

10 March
Fossil Fuels, Greenhouse Gas and the Impact of Our Changing the Composition of the Atmosphere
From fossil fuels to renewables, the energy disruption is underway, and not a moment too soon for Earths’ climate.
Raymond Johnson PhD, founder and director of the Institute of Climate Studies USA
(McGill Office for Science & Society) The issue that the planet faces is that all of the fossil fuels we consume, coal, oil and gas, when burned in the presence of oxygen, produces carbon dioxide [CO2] with the release of energy. CO2 is a greenhouse gas [GHG] which has the property of absorbing infrared energy given off by the Earth’s surface.
The result is that we now have an energy “imbalance”; more energy is being trapped on Earth than in the past.
… The 140 year data set from NASA and Goddard Institute of Space Studies [GISS] at Columbia University…clearly illustrates the fact that Earth is warming and that this process is not slowing down. Indeed, the rate of warming is actually speeding up. Because of this extra energy in our climate system, climate change is here and now and will continue for a long time, and we will have to deal with it.

27 January
Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad
It is the policy of my Administration that climate considerations shall be an essential element of United States foreign policy and national security. The United States will work with other countries and partners, both bilaterally and multilaterally, to put the world on a sustainable climate pathway.
Sec. 202. White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy. There is hereby established the White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy (Climate Policy Office) within the Executive Office of the President, which shall coordinate the policy-making process with respect to domestic climate-policy issues; coordinate domestic climate-policy advice to the President; ensure that domestic climate-policy decisions and programs are consistent with the President’s stated goals and that those goals are being effectively pursued; and monitor implementation of the President’s domestic climate-policy agenda.
Sec.203. National Climate Task Force. There is hereby established a National Climate Task Force (Task Force). The Task Force shall be chaired by the National Climate Advisor.

14 January
Biden swells the ranks of his White House climate team
New hires reflect a sweeping approach, include former top Democratic officials and environmental justice advocates
(WaPo) The incoming White House team — which also includes former secretary of state John F. Kerry and former EPA administrator Gina McCarthy, along with Obama administration veterans in the National Security Council and the White House Counsel’s Office — represents the most robust climate-focused group assembled in the West Wing.

20 December 2020
Biden Announces Climate Team, Including 1st-Ever National Climate Adviser
(NPR) Former EPA chief Gina McCarthy is President-elect Joe Biden’s pick for domestic climate adviser. She’ll have a big role pushing for aggressive climate action across the government.

23 November
Biden names John Kerry as presidential climate envoy
‘America will soon have a government that treats the climate crisis as the urgent national security threat it is,’ Kerry tweeted after the announcement

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