Welcome to the new Sunday newsletter. We’ve moved up the What’s Ahead section to help you better plan your week, but we are still recapping the major events over the past week in the Week in Review section. And starting next week, we will be sending out the Sunday newsletter in the mornings so that you have more time to get caught up on the week ahead. If you have a moment, please let us know what you think of the new format.
The new newsletter will also start with a quiz each week. First up: Can you guess how much the share of millennials who say they would consider buying an electric vehicle has changed since late January? Here are your options (answer at the bottom of the newsletter):
President Joe Biden has invited 40 world leaders to a virtual Leaders Summit on Climate, which will be livestreamed for public viewing on Thursday (Earth Day) and Friday. Why it’s worth watching: This is the president’s first major climate-focused event, and will be his attempt to demonstrate that the United States is prepared to lead internationally to keep the planet’s warming to under 1.5 degrees Celsius (as compared with pre-industrial levels). Biden has made it clear that he intends to reset climate diplomacy more broadly, and has invited leaders with whom the United States has historically had a complicated relationship, such as Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
Also on Earth Day, teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg will testify before Congress during a House Oversight Committee’s Environment Subcommittee hearing titled “The Role of Fossil Fuel Subsidies in Preventing Action on the Climate Crisis.” Why it’s worth watching: This is the subcommittee’s first hearing of the 117th Congress, and will examine how federal subsidies for fossil fuel companies have had a disproportionate impact on vulnerable communities. Thunberg has been a vocal opponent of the fossil fuel industry (and last testified before the U.S. Congress on the subject in September 2019) and Subcommittee Chairman Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) has been a champion of the Green New Deal.
On Monday, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm will participate in an AFL-CIO virtual forum co-chaired by former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka titled “Accelerating the Energy Transition to Deep Decarbonization: Infrastructure, Jobs and Equity.” Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) will also be in attendance, as well as Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.). Why it’s worth watching: Job creation has been the linchpin of the Biden administration’s approach to the climate crisis and energy transition, and the event will explicitly engage the country’s unions on the subject. I will especially have my eye on the closing conversation, which will engage Manchin and Castor on the subject of “building broad coalitions,” as Manchin especially will be a crucial figure in how and if Biden’s infrastructure plan makes its way through the Senate.
Also on Monday, the group E2 will publish its annual “Clean Jobs America” report, which will discuss the impact of COVID-19 on the clean energy industry and explore the potential impact of the Biden administration’s American Jobs Plan on employment in wind, solar, energy efficiency, clean vehicles and more. Why it’s worth reading: As I have reported throughout the pandemic, clean jobs employment in the United States took a major hit last spring, with more than 600,000 jobs lost during the nadir in May 2020. This report will give an overview of how much ground was lost in total, and how far the industry has to go to make up for a year of crisis.
Much of the action last week dealt with jockeying over the emissions cut commitment Biden is expected to release before this week’s climate summit. On Tuesday, the executives of more than 300 corporations wrote to Biden, pushing the administration to nearly double the country’s Paris Agreement goal for cutting carbon dioxide, methane and other emissions, to at least 50 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. This would be the first increase in the country’s climate mitigation targets since former President Barack Obama committed to a 26-28 percent reduction by 2025 when signing the treaty in 2015.
Biden’s administration is also reportedly working on finalizing deals with the governments of Japan, South Korea and Canada for faster reductions on their parts, as well, though it is unclear if those agreements will be announced at the summit.
In other news:
Politico reports that Biden is preparing an executive order instructing federal agencies to take steps to combat climate-related financial risks, with plans that would touch every sector of industry: banking and insurance, oil and gas, housing, agriculture and more. It directs the White House’s economic and climate advisers to work with the Office of Management and Budget on a sweeping strategy to measure, mitigate and disclose the climate risks.
Also, there have been some developments on methane emissions, with Bloomberg reporting the White House is considering upping the country’s methane emissions restrictions as a part of its overall greenhouse gas commitments, to be announced later this week. While the administration expects some pushback from industry over the potential tightening of regulations, the country’s biggest gas driller, EQT Corp., has separately called for a return to the Obama-era limits on methane leaks from natural gas wells and said it would support congressional resolutions condemning the Trump administration’s relaxation of those caps.
The answer to this week’s quiz question is C: There has been a 12-percentage-point increase in the share of millennials who said they would consider purchasing an EV in the next decade since we last asked in late January, from 46 percent to 58 percent. For more, read on here.