(source: Tech Crunch)
As Congress rushes out trillions of dollars to prop up businesses, the federal government is sitting on about $43 billion in low-interest loans for clean energy projects, and critics are accusing the U.S. Energy Department of partisan opposition to disbursing the funds.
Congress is already considering more coronavirus relief, despite a growing concern for an annual budget deficit projected to near a staggering $4 trillion. To some energy experts and lawmakers, it is unconscionable that tens of billions of dollars that Congress long ago authorized has sat unused.
The loans — which would aid renewable power, nuclear energy and carbon capture and storage technology — had some bipartisan support even before the coronavirus pushed 30 million people onto the unemployment rolls. But some supporters of the program said it was being held back by a president who has falsely claimed wind power causes cancer and consistently sought deep cuts to renewable energy spending, including the loan program.
The last new project approved under the programs came in late 2016, a loan to a carbon capture and storage plant in Louisiana. The Trump administration did approve one follow-up loan for a nuclear reactor project in Georgia, but the process had begun under the Obama administration.
Shaylyn Hynes, a spokeswoman for the Department of Energy, declined to explain why loans are not being disbursed. She said the Trump administration had supported renewable energy in other ways, like funding research and development for wind and solar power. She also said in a statement that Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette had directed the agency to “utilize all of its resources to be supportive of the energy industry during the Covid-19 pandemic, including the loan program office.”
Go deeper at https://carbon.substack.com/p/reimagining-capitalism-and-climate
(source: Stockholm Environment Institute)
As the covid-19 outbreak rages across the world, it’s easy to forget about the climate crisis. The priorities right now are, and should be, slowing the pandemic, saving lives, and then restarting economies left in shambles. But by that point few countries are likely to be able or especially eager to sacrifice near-term growth to help slow climate change.
In the short term, global emissions are falling, as they did during steep economic declines in the past. But carbon dioxide can stay in the atmosphere for centuries, meaning the total concentration will continue to rise even if we’re producing less of it. And emissions will bounce back as soon as economies do.
So the threat of rapidly accelerating climate change will remain. And we’ll be living in a much poorer world, with fewer job opportunities, less money to invest in cleaner systems, and deeper fears about our health, our financial futures, and other lurking dangers.
When the pandemic wanes, a poorer, more divided world will still face the rapidly rising threat of climate change.
These are ripe conditions to further inflame nationalist instincts, making our global challenges even harder to solve. Indeed, the breakdowns in international (and even intra-national) cooperation as countries race to understand and tackle the covid-19 outbreak offer a stark warning for our climate future.
Another major casualty of the pandemic has been our faith in a global supply chain. As countries shut down production and distribution, first in China and then around the world, essential goods are in short supply. It has become evident how vulnerable we are to trade relationships and concentrated manufacturing centers.
That too presents a challenge for climate change. China produces about a third of the world’s wind turbines, two-thirds of its solar panels, and roughly 70% of its lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles. What happens if we enter a cold war on clean tech?
In the end, whether people feel the need to tighten international ties or erect higher walls may depend on how ugly things get in the coming weeks and months, and the political narratives that take hold as we try to make sense of how it all happened.
Author James Temple goes deeper addressing America First, the collapse of trust and Climate Fascism in the full article.
Go deeper here LINK
In Italy, the fall in electricity demand reached 20% over the last two weeks. The impact of confinement measures there was visible early on, with a decrease in electricity demand already observed in the week of 2-8 March, according to research by Ember, a climate think tank.
And a further fall in demand is expected to happen after the Italian government announced new lockdown measures on Sunday (22 March), ordering factory closures and halting all production considered “non-essential”.
This means “even more industry and services will shut down and the impact on electricity demand could even exceed 20%,” said Ember.
There is a silver lining to this. Last week, German think-tank Agora Energiewende reported a dive in CO2 emissions related to falling electricity demand.
German industry alone is on track to emit 10 to 25 million tons less CO2 than business as usual, according to the think-tank’s projections, meaning Germany could end up reaching and even exceeding its climate target for 2020.
Carbon market “the first victim”
But the falling price of electricity is also threatening the EU carbon market, which risks becoming “the first victim” of the demand slump because of an oversupply of CO2 allowances, according to Máximo Miccinilli from the Centre on Regulation in Europe, a Brussels-based think tank.
“The uncertainty and instability of the system may undermine the plans to phase-out coal. It may also reduce public income from auctioning revenues and may slow down low-carbon investments,” Miccinilli said.
CO2 prices have sunk to €15.45 a tonne on Monday (23 March), down from around €23 at the beginning of March, according to data by Ember. And demand is not expected to pick up any time soon, Miccinilli said, predicting that “the CO2 price will hardly recover in 2020” because of the prolonged economic uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Europe is thus at a crossroads - applaud short term carbon emissions reductions due to a global recession or fret over the collapse in long term CO2 pricing. LINK
Stay woke on #carbon and #climate. Go deep at carbon.substack.com
- The global financial markets are in a free fall.
- The U.S. fed cut interest rates to near zero, igniting a selling panic.
- Fear mounts as a leadership vacuum becomes apparent.
This is what happens during a global pandemic like coronavirus.
So it's not surprising that the finance industry has no idea how to handle existential threats like climate change.
The effort to put finance at the center of the climate conversation partly reflects a hope that the capital markets will be faster and more rational than political bodies, where efforts to arrest climate change have tended to struggle and languish.
But here's the elephant in the room: Are we trying to protect the climate with finance, or protect finance from a changing climate?
It’s a question that gets discussed surprisingly rarely considering how important climate change is becoming to finance and vice versa.
For the time being, leaders will rightly focus all resources and energy to avert the worse case scenario for coronavirus. But the climate crisis is lurking around the corner, waiting to release its fury on our kind.
Stay woke on carbon and climate. Go deep at carbon.substack.com
Europe Just Had Its Warmest Winter Since at Least 1850. The average temperature in Europe over winter's three months was 6.1 degrees Fahrenheit above average, topping the previous record-warm European winter of 2015-16 by about 2.5 degrees, according to a monthly report from the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S).
This was staggering when considering temperature data averaged over an entire continent over a three-month period.
When comparing this C3S dataset dating to 1979 with a number of other datasets dating to the mid-19th century, C3S also said this was the warmest European winter going back to at least 1850.
A prime reason for the warm winter was a persistently strong polar vortex high above the Earth in the stratosphere, keeping colder air fenced in near the pole, rather than plunging it deep into Europe and locking it in place.
Stay woke on carbon and climate. Go deep at carbon.substack.com
#climate #carbon #europe
(source: Getty Images)
Trees got a big boost when The World Economic Forum (WEF) announced a new initiative aimed at planting a trillion trees around the globe within the decade to combat climate change.
The inspiration for the WEF's Trillion Tree Initiative was a presentation at the organization's meeting last year by Swiss ecologist Thomas Crowther who asserted that there is enough land to accommodate 1.2 trillion more trees.
Currently, our planet is home to about 3 trillion trees. In July of last year, Crowther and his team calculated in Science that planting a little more than 1 trillion additional trees would significantly cool the earth by sequestering in growing trees about 25 percent of the carbon dioxide currently in the atmosphere.
Implausibly assuming that human carbon dioxide emissions stopped now, that goal would notionally lower atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations back to about where they stood a century or so ago.
Meeting that goal would essentially restore U.S. forest area back to where it stood in 1630.
Still, beware magical solutions.
Not all tree-planting initiatives are created equal. The location, species planted, and how people are involved can all jeopardize success.
Another big concern surrounding the call for planting a trillion trees is that it could distract from other efforts to slow down climate change, like eliminating carbon emissions and deforestation in the first place.
To be clear, critics of the campaign are still fans of trees. They still think forests play a role in solving the climate crisis — their skepticism mostly centers around efforts to plant trees in places they weren’t before, or to plant large swaths of a single species to essentially create “tree plantations” instead of real forests.
"There can be no greater responsibility than protecting our planet…and no mission that a global Britain is prouder to serve." – Boris Johnson, British Prime Minister
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced a plan to ban sales of gasoline- and diesel-powered passenger cars in the U.K. beginning in 2035. That's five years earlier than a previous commitment by the U.K., and it also adds even hybrid vehicles to the banned list, leaving only full electric cars as an option. There were 2.3 million passenger cars sold in the U.K. in 2019—and only 37,850 of them were electric vehicles.
Johnson unveiled the policy as part of a launch event for a United Nations Climate Summit known as COP26, being hosted in Glasgow in November. Johnson declared that 2020 would be a "defining year of climate action" for the planet.
Sir David Attenborough said at the launch event at London's Science Museum that he was looking forward to COP26 and found it "encouraging" that the UK government was launching a "year of climate action."
Stay woke on carbon and climate. Go deep at carbon.substack.com
#climate #carbon #electricvehicles #COP26
photo credit: Getty
The massive bushfires in Australia are still spreading as heat, high winds, and dry weather are pushing flames through much of the southeastern part of the country.
The blazes have proved deadly and destructive, burning through more than 14.8 million acres, or 23,000 square miles, an area almost as large as the state of West Virginia. The fires have now killed at least 20 people and destroyed more than 1,400 homes.
These fires are burning just as Australia is emerging from its hottest, driest year on record. Several unique weather patterns converged over the country to create the hot, dry conditions behind the fires this season. But climate change is a major factor, with average temperatures rising across Australia and the most populated parts of the country receiving less rainfall over time, worsening the risk of extreme wildfires. Vox
For a terrestrial view of Australia’s record setting fires and destruction, visit “The Australia Wildfires in Pictures” NYTimes
The European Commission has unveiled the most ambitious vision of any government to date to address the climate crisis.
Dubbed the European Green Deal, the proposal aims to make the 28 countries in the #EuropeanUnion “climate neutral” by 2050.
Combined, these countries make up the world’s largest economic bloc, and rank third behind China and the United States in contributions to #climatechange. The proposal aims to meet its objectives while ensuring a just transition for workers who might be hurt in the process. VOX
(photo credit: European Union)
When you have Mike Bloomberg money, there is no shortage of ways to spend it. Bloomberg announced he was seeking the Democratic nomination for president along with plans to spend up to $1 billion of his own fortune on his campaign. What he didn’t announce was his role as the new climate clarion.