Posted on Sunday, March 7th, 2021, 6:56 pm
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The Climate Action Alliance of the Valley publishes the weekly summary of climate and energy news. The following are excerpts from a recent summary. The full summary is here.
Politics and politics
The Senate's Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted 11-9 for the appointment of Rep. Haaland (D-NM) as Head of the Home Office. Interior is working hard to incorporate key parts of Biden's climate change agenda, particularly around oil and gas restrictions. Energy Secretary Granholm stands ready to reactivate her department's largely unused US $ 40 billion loan program in the last four years to help drive the clean energy transition. The tens of billions of dollars the agency plans to invest in the clean energy sector will likely force companies to create the high-paying jobs Biden promised. Vox's Ella Nilson spoke to McCarthy's national climate adviser about how to achieve a clean energy economy, get forgotten coal communities back on track, and increase union rates to ensure new energy jobs pay high wages. Guidelines and suggestions in some states affirm the writing on the wall for coal mining as they advocate for a just transition. other states deny and fight against it, the difference being mainly due to the lack of a coherent national energy transition.
The American Petroleum Institute is closer to approving a carbon tax as an alternative to federal regulations and measures to slow climate change. The US sales representative's office said an adjustment to carbon limits will be seen as part of an effort to develop market and regulatory approaches to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. US Climate Commissioner Kerry urged oil and gas companies to do more to diversify and adopt low-carbon technologies to combat climate change. Rolling Stone's Jeff Goodell discussed with Kerry whether the US would finally lead the climate. The House's high-level energy and trade Democrats unveiled a blueprint for their Plan to Combat Climate Change – an expanded version of last year's CLEAN Future Act – to take a sector-wise approach to achieving a net carbon footprint by 2050. To achieve zero emissions. Alternatively, MP David McKinley (R-WV) will reintroduce the “Future Clean Energy Through Innovation 2020” bill.
Bloomberg NEF predicts solar, wind and batteries will attract $ 10 billion in investment by 2050. The manufacture of clean energy systems in the USA is becoming increasingly important. Several states are likely to follow California and introduce stricter emissions standards for vehicles if the Biden administration gives the go-ahead for these efforts. The consortium that oversees model building regulations for much of the United States has deprived local governments of the right to vote on future regulations, creating a major obstacle to decarbonizing the US economy.
UN Secretary-General Guterres said that all planned coal projects around the world must be canceled to end the “deadly dependence” on fossil fuels. China has managed to reduce its “carbon intensity” (the amount of CO2 emitted per unit of GDP) by 18.8% in the five years to 2020 and plans to increase it by an additional 13% in 2021-2025. 5% lower. China's coal consumption is expected to increase further in 2021. Two reports criticize the UK government's performance on climate change – one says it has “no plan” to meet the climate change targets two years after they were adopted, and the other that the UN Climate Change Conference planned for November will fail, when its goals are not made clear. Hungary announced that its last coal-fired power plant will be shut down in 2025.
Climate and Climate Science
This New York Times (NYT) article had excellent graphics explaining recent research to better understand the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) and the effects of climate change on it.
Officials in Miami-Dade County, where climate models predict sea levels will rise by two feet or more by 2060, have released an optimistic strategy for living with more water. Climate experts warned the plan to downplay the scale of the threat. Climate change is causing more rainstorms and more floods. It is a major concern that the American Society of Civil Engineers gave US flood control infrastructure a D rating and estimated the cost of renovating all US dams to be $ 93.6 billion.
The Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO), the up and down cycle of hurricane activity in the Atlantic, is very likely an artifact of climate change. Because of the relationship between AMO and hurricane activity, this discovery means that humans – not natural variability – were the main driving force. From 1991 to 2020, hurricane activity increased in the Atlantic.
While February saw the US had its coldest weather in a century, large areas around the world basked in the warmest winter weather ever observed. Almost 80% of the western US is affected by drought, and almost 42% of the region is affected by “extreme” or “exceptional” drought. Hundreds of species of butterflies in the American West are disappearing as the region becomes hotter, drier, and more vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
Climate models with a high “climate sensitivity” exaggerate the cooling effect caused by interactions between clouds and aerosols and predict that clouds will mitigate the warming caused by greenhouse gases much more than climate records actually show. An international team of scientists discovered a new mechanism of cloud formation that is not currently included in climate models and over which the poles could be important and affect the melting of sea ice.
According to Volvo, a fleet of all electric vehicles should be available by 2030. The NYT has a guide on some environmental factors to consider when purchasing an electric vehicle. Fossil-fueled cars waste hundreds of times more raw materials than their battery-electric equivalents. Six major utilities have unveiled a plan to add fast EV chargers to connect key highway systems in the United States. The goal of the Electric Highway Coalition, made up of six major electricity companies in the Southeast and Midwest, is to build enough DC fast charging stations for electric vehicles to connect the Atlantic coast, the Midwest and the South, as well as the Gulf Coast and Central regions Plains. To supply the growing EV fleet, GM is looking for a location to build a second US battery factory with a joint venture partner.
Exxon Mobil CEO said improving economic and government policies are creating opportunities for carbon capture and storage. He also said that Exxon Mobil would try to set a goal of not emitting more greenhouse gases than it removes from the atmosphere, although it wasn't sure when that could happen. Chevron and its partners Microsoft, Schlumberger and Clean Energy Systems will build a carbon capture facility in California. FedEx is investing at least $ 2 billion in sustainable energy initiatives, including electric vehicles and carbon sequestration research, as part of a new commitment to be carbon neutral by 2040.
Lockdowns around the world resulted in an unprecedented decrease in CO2 emissions of around 7% in 2020, or around 2.6 billion tons. For the next ten years, annual reductions of between 1 and 2 billion tons are required to have a good chance of limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5 ° C or 2 ° C. CO2 emissions rose steadily in the second half of 2020. By December, emissions were 2% higher than in the same month of 2019.
The US could cut emissions from its electricity grid in half within the next decade by investing in renewables and transmission lines. A national approach to transmission planning could allegedly bring great benefits in the speed required to address the challenges of climate change. Berkshire Hathaway Energy spends billions building transmission lines to move electricity from remote areas that produce renewable energy to population centers where it is needed. FERC's chairman is focused on enabling long-distance transmission lines to be built to bring more renewable electricity into the grid.
Governments and energy companies are betting large sums of money on clean hydrogen, which plays a leading role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, although future uses and costs are highly uncertain. Shell relies on the production of renewable aviation fuels in its refinery in the Rhineland. Siemens Energy announced a US Department of Energy grant to investigate how its electrolysers can combine with hydrogen compression and storage and power plant control technology to provide long-term energy storage in renewable energy facilities. Alberta hopes to transform its oil and gas industry by using its tar-sand bitumen as a feedstock to make carbon fiber and converting its natural gas to blue hydrogen through carbon capture.
The CEOs of Duke Energy and Xcel Energy have stated that if they move to cleaner forms of energy, natural gas will remain part of their electricity mix for years to come. An angry backlash from industry has welcomed efforts by cities to ban natural gas in new homes and businesses.
Climate researcher Katharine Hayhoe is the next chief scientist to join nature conservation. The Washington Post Magazine published an interview with her. The NYT reviewed Elizabeth Kolbert's new book Under a White Sky. Joel Makower discussed the concept of “Net-Zero” and why it can be an instrument for greenwashing. A UN report found that people waste more than a billion tons of food annually, placing food waste just behind China and the US as a contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. A key series of four articles, Fractured, documented Environmental Health News' investigation of fracking chemicals in the air, water, and people of western Pennsylvania. Of the ~ 55,000 indigenous households on the Navajo Nation's land, ~ 15,000 have no electricity. UN human rights officials published a report condemning environmental racism in Louisiana's “Cancer Alley”, where the predominantly black population breathes air that is heavily polluted by an expanding corridor of petrochemical plants. Climate researcher Michael Mann spoke to The Guardian's Jonathan Watts about his new book The New Climate War and why he believes the tide could finally turn in a hopeful direction.
Compiled by Les Grady, CAAV Steering Committee