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April 23, 2021
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  • The first day of President Joe Biden’s global climate summit resulted in tangibly stronger emissions cut commitments from countries like Canada and Japan, while several others, including Russia and Brazil, were more vague about their intentions; while Chinese President Xi Jinping did not make a stronger emissions commitment (his current pledge involves reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2060), he did say the country would “strictly limit coal consumption” in the next five years and phase it down in the following five years (The New York Times). Biden made his own commitment to halve U.S. emissions by 2030, as well as to double climate aid to developing nations, who were evidently expecting money from the Global North in exchange for accelerating their own emissions cuts. (Bloomberg
  • The Transportation Department has retracted part of a Trump administration rule that had prevented states from setting their own vehicle pollution policies, effectively restoring California’s ability to set fuel efficiency and car emissions standards, as well as set certain electric vehicle sales requirements. The Biden administration also reportedly intends to return an Obama-era legal waiver under the 1970 Clean Air Act to the state that would allow it to set these stricter rules. (Los Angeles Times)
  • The United States, Norway and the United Kingdom have tapped private investors in a collective plan to cut greenhouse gases by giving monetary rewards to countries that stop the destruction of tropical forests. A group of nine major companies would work with the three countries to invest at least $1 billion in the forest protection plan, with one environmental advocate saying that preserving existing forests could eliminate more than 25 percent of greenhouse gas emissions globally. (The Washington Post
  • Biden has announced several picks to lead various environmental departments, including scientist Rick Spinrad to lead the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency where Spinrad worked during the Obama administration. And, as anticipated, National Wildlife Federation senior adviser Tracy Stone-Manning has been tapped to lead the Bureau of Land Management. (The Hill)
 

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Events Calendar (All Times Local)

 

What Else You Need to Know

General
 

GOP Senators Release Outline of $568 Billion Infrastructure Plan

Andrew Duehren and Siobhan Hughes, The Wall Street Journal

A group of Senate Republicans released the outline for a $568 billion infrastructure plan, putting out a GOP alternative to President Biden’s $2.3 trillion plan as lawmakers seek a bipartisan compromise on the issue.

 

US, Canadian governments to collaborate on green government-operations initiative

Zack Budryk, The Hill

U.S. and Canadian leaders on Thursday announced a joint initiative on transitioning to net-zero government operations.

 

Grijalva calls for return of public lands agency to DC after Trump moved BLM out West

Rebecca Beitsch, The Hill

A top congressional leader is calling on the Biden administration to reverse a Trump-era decision to uproot the federal government’s land management agency and scatter its employees across the West. 

 

The virtual summit makes history, but proves even world leaders aren’t immune to tech issues.

Coral Davenport, The New York Times

The White House climate summit made history as the first digital gathering of 40 world leaders, according to Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian, but demonstrated that even the world’s most powerful people are not immune from the Zoom-induced glitches that have plagued remote workers throughout the pandemic.

 

This climate policy expert is taking over Jeff Bezos’s $10 billion Earth Fund

Umair Irfan, Vox

A conversation with Andrew Steer about the US Earth Day climate summit, and how he wants to spend Bezos’s money.

 
Climate Change and Emissions
 

Climate Summit: How Do You Cut 50% of Greenhouse-Gas Emissions by 2030?

Ana Rivas et al., The Wall Street Journal

WSJ analyzed carbon-reduction measures in climate-change proposals. Now you can decide how to lower U.S. emissions to 50% of 2005 levels.

 

Trudeau Vows to Speed Up Emissions Cuts for Canada, a G7 Laggard

Kait Bolongaro, Bloomberg

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged that Canada will reduce its emissions by 40% to 45% below 2005 levels by 2030, an acceleration of his climate policy meant to improve the country’s worst-performer status among leading economies and match newly aggressive targets set by the U.S. and other allies.

 

Biden Wants to Slash Emissions. Success Would Mean a Very Different America.

Brad Plumer, The New York Times

Hitting the targets could require a rapid shift to electric vehicles, the expansion of forests nationwide, development of complex new carbon-capture technology and many other changes, researchers said.

 

Pentagon chief: Climate crisis ‘existential’ threat to US national security

Ellen Mitchell, The Hill

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Thursday called climate change an “existential” threat to U.S. national security, committing the Pentagon to “doing our part” to alleviate it.

 

How climate became the centerpiece of Biden’s economic agenda

Ella Nilsen, Vox

The politics and urgency around climate change are shifting.

 

AOC’s plan for a 1.5 million-strong Civilian Climate Corps, explained

Kate Yoder, Grist

The Green New Deal was reintroduced this week, two years after its debut. And now it’s more than simply a framework: Like President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, the sprawling package of measures aims to get the country back on track.

 

Carbon offsets aren’t enough. We need to remove carbon from the atmosphere.

Grist

To reverse climate change and reach target emissions objectives, we need a drastic reduction in CO2.

 
Renewables and Storage
 

State-Supported “Clean Energy” Loans Are Putting Borrowers At Risk of Losing Their Homes

Jeremy Kohler and Haru Coryne, ProPublica

Dozens of Missouri homeowners who used PACE loans to fix up their houses ended up trapped in debt and could soon see their homes sold at auction.

 

What Elon Musk and Jack Dorsey Are Missing About Bitcoin and Green Energy

Will Mathis and Lars Paulsson, Bloomberg

A trio of Jack Dorsey, Cathie Wood and Elon Musk are promoting the idea that Bitcoin mining can be good for the planet actually. That’s not exactly true.

 

Senators spar over Biden green energy infrastructure push

Sylvan Lane, The Hill

President Biden’s push to mobilize the U.S. economy against climate change is stoking Republican backlash to his infrastructure plan, raising further doubts about a potential bipartisan breakthrough.

 
Oil, Gas and Alternative Fuels
 

Chevron Lobbies to Head Off New Sanctions on Myanmar

Kenneth P. Vogel and Lara Jakes, The New York Times

The oil company is arguing against efforts to restrict its involvement in a gas operation in Myanmar that provides funding for the junta there.

 

NYC Sues Exxon, Shell, BP for Ads Calling Products ‘Cleaner’

Ellen Gilmer and Bob Van Voris, Bloomberg

New York City sued three major oil companies for allegedly running deceptive ads claiming their products are “cleaner” and “emissions-reducing” while failing to disclose their harmful effects on the climate.

 

Greta Thunberg: U.S. fossil fuel tax incentives a ‘disgrace’

Anthony Adragna, Politico

The Treasury Department has proposed eliminating some tax provisions used by oil, gas and coal producers to help pay for the infrastructure and climate plan.

 

New Mexico fights to escape powerful grip of big oil and gas

Cody Nelson and Emily Holden, Floodlight and The Guardian

New Mexico seeks to become an economy less reliant on oil and gas, but the extractive industries continue to exert their might on the state and its people.

 

Senate to vote next week on repealing Trump methane rule 

Rachel Frazin, The Hill

The Senate will vote on nixing a Trump-era rule that limits regulation of methane next week, Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said during a floor speech on Thursday. 

 
Transportation
 

Congressmen, Consumer Reports Raise Concerns Over Tesla’s Autopilot

Rebecca Elliott, The Wall Street Journal

Two U.S. senators have expressed concern about what they said may be an emerging pattern of safety concerns involving Tesla Inc. vehicles in the wake of a fatal crash in Texas.

 

TravelCenters of America to Add Hydrogen Fueling Sites for Big Rigs

Jennifer Smith, The Wall Street Journal

Truck-stop operator TravelCenters of America Inc. is stepping up its alternative-energy game as tougher regulations push the commercial transport sector to look beyond diesel fuel.

 

Europe Debuts Hydrogen Passenger Trains in Zero-Carbon Push

Tara Patel, Bloomberg

The first hydrogen-powered passenger trains built by Alstom SA are set to debut in Germany and establish a toehold for the technology in Europe.

 
Electricity, Utilities and Infrastructure
 

Biden’s sweeping climate goal comes down to one thing

Michael Grunwald, Politico

The president wants a sprint to slash greenhouse gas output throughout the U.S. economy. But electricity is the only sector with a running start.

 

Why Bitcoin Is Bad for the Environment
Elizabeth Kolbert, The New Yorker

Cryptocurrency mining uses huge amounts of power—and can be as destructive as the real thing.

 

NextEra sees hydrogen as key to deep decarbonization, takes small steps for now

Larry Pearl, Utility Dive

NextEra Energy sees hydrogen as a key component for deep decarbonization of the U.S. power sector, and is taking on a number of small projects in that space, the utility’s Chief Financial Officer, Rebecca Kujawa, said Wednesday during the company’s Q1 earnings call.

 

Up to 20 Percent of Groundwater Wells Are in Danger of Running Dry

Leslie Kaufman, Bloomberg

As many as one in five wells worldwide is at risk of running dry if groundwater levels drop by even a few meters, according to a new study appearing Thursday in the journal Science.

 
Environment, Land and Resources
 

Battery Metals Are Hot, but These Miners Can’t Get Investors

Vipal Monga and Jacquie McNish, The Wall Street Journal

Small mining companies in North America are struggling to attract funding, despite growing demand for lithium and cobalt for electric vehicles and batteries

 
Coal/Nuclear
 

South Korea Shuns Coal-Power Financing Amid Rising U.S. Pressure

Heesu Lee, Bloomberg

South Korea will halt state-backed financing of coal-fired power plants overseas and also plans to strengthen its emissions reduction commitment under the Paris agreement.

 
Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives
 

If Biden Wants to Be the Climate President, He Won’t Need China’s Help

Robert D. Atkinson (President, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation), Morning Consult

The Biden administration recently announced a $2 trillion infrastructure plan with climate solutions at the center. Yet some argue that solving climate change requires more than a big budget, and conventional Washington wisdom holds that America cannot solve climate without the help of China. This is not only wrong; it’s dangerous.

 

Is NATO’s Article Five the Solution We Need on Climate Change?

Deborah Brosnan (Founder, Brosnan & Associates), Morning Consult

Last month, emboldened by a new climate-conscious U.S. president, North Atlantic Treaty Organization Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced his intention to make climate change a centerpiece of the military alliance’s strategic planning.

 

For real progress on climate change, invite the developing world

Gillian Tett, Financial Times

The US and China must work together to help small economies reduce emissions

 

Intersectional Environmentalism Is the Urgent Way Forward

Leah Thomas, Marie Claire

In 2017, I was the only Black person in my graduating class to receive an environmental science degree. At times, I felt the pressure to silence parts of my racial identity. Because of the lack of representation in my studies and even in my textbooks (despite the many voices of color who shaped the environmental movement), I felt afraid to disrupt the status quo and advocate for issues of race within my environmental journey.

 






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