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April 22, 2021
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  • President Joe Biden has announced that the United States will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by between 50 and 52 percent by 2030 (compared with 2005 levels), nearly doubling the country’s 2015 commitment. This announcement kicks off Biden’s climate summit, convening 40 world leaders today and tomorrow and aiming to encourage similar ambition on a global scale. (The Washington Post
  • Insurance giant Swiss Re has released a report saying that climate change is likely to reduce global economic output by 11 to 14 percent — as much as $23 trillion compared with growth levels without climate change — in the next three decades as a function of failed crops, the spread of disease and rising sea levels. (The New York Times)
  • The governors of 12 states have called on Biden to back a phaseout of gas-powered cars and trucks by 2035, per a letter seen by a media outlet. The state leaders — including the governors of California and New York — also argued for “significant milestones along the way to monitor progress.” (Reuters)
  • The Biden administration’s pause on oil and gas leasing on public lands will persist at least through June, according to the Bureau of Land Management, “pending completion of a comprehensive review and reconsideration” of the country’s practices. The report is set for completion later this summer. (The Hill)

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Events Calendar (All Times Local)


What Else You Need to Know


Investigation suppressed by Trump administration reveals obstacles to hurricane aid for Puerto Rico

Tracy Jan and Lisa Rein, The Washington Post

The Trump administration put up bureaucratic obstacles that stalled approximately $20 billion in hurricane relief for Puerto Rico and then obstructed an investigation into the holdup, according to an inspector general report obtained by The Washington Post.


Though never adopted, the ‘Green New Deal’ left its mark

Benjamin J. Hulac, Roll Call

A new version was introduced this week, but the original’s influence can be seen in Biden climate agenda.


Senate Democrats introduce bill to reform energy tax credits

Zack Budryk, The Hill

Senate Democrats introduced legislation Wednesday that would overhaul “overly complex” energy tax incentives to encourage clean energy development.


EPA administrator: We don’t plan to return ‘verbatim’ to Obama-era water regulation

Rachel Frazin, The Hill

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan said Wednesday that he doesn’t plan to return “verbatim” to the Obama administration’s rule on what types of waterways receive federal protections. 

Climate Change and Emissions

What’s on the agenda for Biden’s climate summit, and who’s attending?

Aishvarya Kavi, The New York Times

President Biden’s climate summit will begin on Thursday, Earth Day, and will feature a host of high-profile speakers and attendees, including heads of state and business leaders — and Pope Francis. Here is a breakdown of the biggest names and what the Biden administration is hoping to accomplish.


Bank climate pledges in doubt after U.S. giants sit out global agreement

Zack Colman, Politico

The absence of major U.S. banks set off alarms among climate advocates.


Japan raises emissions reduction target to 46% by 2030

Mari Yamaguchi, The Associated Press

Japan’s prime minister announced on Thursday an ambitious new target for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, hours before he was to join a virtual climate summit hosted by U.S. President Joe Biden.


A brief timeline of U.S. climate pledges made, and discarded

Tony Barboza, Los Angeles Times

President Biden is announcing an ambitious new pledge to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions roughly in half by 2030 as part of a global climate summit he is hosting this week. It’s a move intended to reestablish America as an international leader in the fight against global warming after four years of Trump administration environmental rollbacks and climate denial.


Yellen Flags Private Capital’s Role in Climate-Change Battle

Christopher Condon, Bloomberg

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said private financing, and not just government spending, will be needed to tackle the “existential threat” of climate change.


U.S. Steel’s Far-Off Emissions Goal Requires Radical Overhaul

Joe Deaux, Bloomberg

U.S. Steel Corp. is setting a goal to zero out its direct emissions by 2050 in an effort that would require the steelmaker to radically overhaul its entire business.


Europe’s Changing Climate Viewed From Orbit Shows Rising Danger

Jonathan Tirone, Bloomberg

Record temperatures, rising seas and wildfires picked up pace even as European economies stayed locked down.


Ad giant WPP pledges net zero emissions by 2025

Kate Holton, Reuters

WPP said on Thursday it planned to make the world’s largest advertising company reach net zero carbon emissions by 2025 by incorporating many of the virtual production solutions it has developed during the pandemic.


Kerry: China described climate change as ‘crisis’ for the first time

Zack Budryk, The Hill

U.S. Climate Envoy John Kerry emphasized what he said was progress on negotiating with China on carbon emissions Wednesday, saying Beijing had described climate change as a “crisis” for the first time.

Renewables and Storage

White House to Be ‘Aggressive’ on Renewables, New CEQ Head Says

Stephen Lee et al., Bloomberg Law

The White House wants to rev up projects across the nation by remodeling permitting policies that still protect the environment, Brenda Mallory, the new leader of its Council on Environmental Quality, told Bloomberg Law on Wednesday.

Oil, Gas and Alternative Fuels

Texas energy fund shuts, founder says millions squandered

Shariq Khan, Reuters

The founder of a Texas oil and gas investment firm that raised about $31 million shut the business this month and acknowledged in a Reuters interview that he had squandered investors’ cash on “bad” and “non-arm’s-length” deals.


Trudeau Was a Global Climate Hero. Now Canada Risks Falling Behind.

Ian Austen and Christopher Flavelle, The New York Times

Canada is the only G7 nation whose greenhouse gas emissions have increased since the Paris Agreement. The main reason: its oil sands.


Pipeline tells Black Memphis landowners: sell us the rights to your land or get sued

Leonna First-Arai and Carrington Tatum, The Guardian and Southerly and MLK50: Justice Through Journalism

The legal battle over Byhalia pipeline has become a flashpoint in the conversation about environmental justice and the right of energy companies to take private land.


Push for infrastructure gas-tax hike loses steam

Zack Budryk, The Hill

Longtime proponents of raising the gas tax and recent converts to a vehicle miles traveled tax are sensing it’s increasingly unlikely that either revenue-raiser will be a part of President Biden’s massive infrastructure proposal.


Nobel laureates call for elimination of fossil fuels

Zack Budryk, The Hill 

More than 100 Nobel laureates have signed a letter calling for President Biden and other world leaders to take action to fully phase out fossil fuel production.


Brussels faces backlash over delay to decision on whether gas is green

Mehreen Khan, Financial Times

Experts threaten to walk out of talks on a labelling system to guide green investments.


An E.V. Start-Up Backed by UPS Does Away With the Assembly Line

Neal E. Boudette, The New York Times

Arrival, a developer of electric vans and buses, says it has come up with a cheaper way to build vehicles in small factories. But can it deliver on that promise?


Transit Groups Urge Funding Equity, Upending Decades-Old Formula

Lillianna Byington, Bloomberg Law

Advocacy groups from states across the U.S. are urging Congress to evenly fund transit and highways in the next surface transportation reauthorization bill.


DOT appoints chief science officer for first time in 40 years

Alex Gangitano, The Hill

The Department of Transportation (DOT) announced on Wednesday it is appointing a chief science officer, the first time in over 40 years the role will be filled in the department.                                                           

Electricity, Utilities and Infrastructure

Electrify everything: why we need to go big on going electric


With global energy demand expected to increase by as much as 58 percent in the next three decades, the urgency to transition away from fossil fuels is growing.

Environment, Land and Resources

Humanity’s greatest ally against climate change is the Earth itself

Sarah Kaplan, The Washington Post

Ecosystems can draw down carbon and buffer us from the worst effects of climate change — but only if we protect them.


Newsom launches effort to deal with drought; emergencies declared in two counties

Bettina Boxall, Los Angeles Times

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday declared a drought emergency in two Northern California counties as he stood on the dry shoreline of Lake Mendocino.


It’s dangerous to be an environmental activist in Latin America. A new treaty is trying to change that.

Ysabelle Kempe, Grist

The agreement, which goes into effect on Earth Day, has been signed by 24 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.


4 in 10 Americans breathe polluted air, with people of color hit hardest

Alexandria Herr, Grist

A new report shows how air pollution is shaped by climate change and racism.


Bolsonaro’s Sudden Pledge to Protect the Amazon Met With Skepticism

Manuela Andreoni and Ernesto Londoño, The New York Times 

The Biden era has prompted Brazil to take steps to burnish its record as an environmental scoundrel — for which it’s seeking billions of dollars from the international community.


It’s never been this expensive to finance a new coal power plant

Michael J. Coren and Tim McDonnell, Quartz

For decades, infrastructure for coal, oil, and gas was seen as a relatively safe investment delivering strong returns, and renewables barely attracted the private sector’s attention. While banks put up trillions of dollars financing new fossil-fuel assets, from mines to power plants, government funds furnished about 50% of the annual investment (pdf) in America’s solar sector as recently as 2004.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

NATO’s climate challenge

Jens Stoltenberg, Politico

The alliance’s secretary general on why its members must work together to adapt to rising temperatures and cut emissions.


Some say we can ‘solar-engineer’ ourselves out of the climate crisis. Don’t buy it

Ray Pierrehumbert and Michael E. Mann, The Guardian

What could go wrong with this idea? Well, quite a lot.


California law needs to catch up to sea level rise

David Helvarg, Los Angeles Times

Last year, California’s massive wildfires were impossible to ignore. Four million acres burned. People and animals died, homes were lost, power faltered for days at a time, air quality deteriorated, the sky over San Francisco turned orange.


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