[Jun 7-13 ‘21] Net-zero vs real-zero

Pictures of the drought of California, Keystone XL pipeline cancelled, climate crisis needs a feminist response and the “big con” regarding net-zero unveiled — also we try Twitter Spaces this week.


Welcome to this week’s edition of The Weekly Climate 🎉

References: [1], [2], [3], [4], [5] and [6].

As you know, when I’m launching new stuff I tend to try different things to see what works and next week we’re going to try Twitter Spaces instead of Clubhouse. Twitter Spaces is the same, just on Twitter. There’s a number of reasons why I wanted to try Twitter Spaces instead of Clubhouse

  1. It’s where the climate discussion already is

  2. You only need a Twitter account to join

  3. A couple of people I’ve spoken too had privacy concerns regarding Clubhouse.

  4. It’s f***ing hard to build a new community from scratch on a new platform and on Twitter I already have some following.

So it kind of makes sense to try it out. We’ll see how it goes.

Finally, I realized that Wednesday is too soon if I want to find somebody to interview, let alone find people who can join to listen. And it makes sense, people don’t just clear their schedule to be interviewed by or listen to Weekly Climate … yet. So these interviews will now be held on Fridays 3pm CET. So if you’re in Europe, bring your own beer after a long week of hard work and if you’re in the US bring your own cup of coffee and start your day right.

🦉Twitter Spaces topic of the week

Net-zero vs “real” zero 0️⃣ (Friday June 18 3pm CET unless otherwise noted)

In short, there’s been so much debate going on about what net-zero means and whether it’s adequate or not. There’s been contradicting reports and articles taking both sides. So on Friday June 18 3pm CET we’re going to settle it! Or at least try to 😬.

Search for #twitter below to see which articles is included in that. Also check out previous newsletters which the past few weeks has had a lot on #netzero. Here’s a link to the Space on Twitter and be sure to follow me there to not miss more great climate content 🐧.

Click the link in this tweet to set a reminder:

‼️News you can’t miss

Here’s one important scary/bad (🙀), good (😻), interesting (😼) and fossil (💩) news item.

🙀 Here’s some scary/sad pictures from the drought currently hitting a big part of California.

😻 Keystone XL pipeline in the US cancelled!

😼 The climate crisis needs a feminist response.

💩 A new report argues that net-zero plans are bullshit and a big con orchestrated by big fossil and friends.

👩‍⚕️ Status: Climate & Science

Let’s look at how we’re doing this week!

[#glacier] — A new study of the gigantic Pine Island Glacier reveals that it is breaking up which is causing it to melt faster. If the entire thing melts (which it’s still very far from) then that would mean a 0.5m global sea level rise.

[#co2] — NOAA just reported last week that CO2 levels are now 50% higher than before Industrial Revolution. Total concentration average for May was 419ppm.

[#landslides] — New machine learning model developed by NASA doubles the accuracy for predicting landslides, which annually causes thousands of deaths and billions in damages. This is especially true in areas that have been ravaged by mega wildfires or areas with high soil erosions as heavy rains has a huge risk of creating these landslides as has been seen in the past.

📰 The 7 Grand Challenges

⚡️Decarbonize Electricity

Clean electricity is the one do-or-die challenge we must solve.

[#floatingsolar] — If you ever wanted what a floating solar power plant looks like take a look at this. Albania just activated it’s first 72MW floating solar power plant which is floating in a big reservoir of a hydro power plant.

[#coalmines] — A new study looked at the amount of coal mines proposed globally and compares that to the 1.5C target of the Paris agreement and to no surprise concludes that they are incompatible with the 1.5C target. Global coal mine proposals will increase global coal output by 30% which also seems radical in a clearly falling industry.

[#energystorage] — California is going BIG on energy storage. Up until recently most grids with heavy renewable penetration had to rely on a lot of fossil gas power plants to prop up the demand when heat waves occurred or just to deal with the classic duck curve that happen every single day. But as California aims to go 100% renewable more and more battery storage is coming online. This article has the details on the plans.

[#nuclear] — Russia begins construction of it’s first fast neutron reactor (a regular fission reactor where the fission reaction is sustained by high energy neutrons). This reactor type has the benefit that it can reuse spent nuclear fuel, which provides an almost inexhaustible amount of fuel. The reactor will be 300MW and should start operation 2026.

🏘 Reduce impact of urban and rural areas

Lowering the impact of urban and rural areas.

[#adaptation] — 25% of California’s population are threatened by wildfires. And one key reason seem to be how the state’s building permits work. When someone’s house have been demolished by wildfire they’re usually not allowed to rebuild it some other place and that puts the new house straight in the path of new wildfires. This article takes a deep dive into the problem.

[#ev] — One of the big challenges of EVs that few seem to be talking that much about is charging. And the reason is that charging is no problem in the major parts of the developed world today. If you’re in a large city you can always find a charger. But imagine 10 years from now, 5 years before a world wide ban of ICE cars. All ICE cars you see on the streets today, need to become EVs, how are they going to charge? This article looks at a few interesting ways to solve the problems for so called “garage orphans”.

[#energystorage] — Lithium batteries are going to be in huge demand in the coming years, so the US just released it’s “blueprint” for how it’s going to fix the country’s supply chain for getting access to these batteries.

🌳 Protect and grow nature

Nature is our ally, we must protect it and help it help us.

[#reforestation] — Startup Terraformation led by former Reddit CEO has raised a 30M$ Series A to expand their rapid reforestation technology. I was assuming it was just some drone machinegun seeding thing. But apparently they really studied the problem and identified three main bottlenecks to tree planting today which they’re solving with three different products. Apparently, using their products they can speed up tree-planting by 5x.

[#deforestation] — In a new exhibition artist Richard Mosse is showing the devastation in the Amazon in great detail using multispectral photography, which is normally used by scientists studying the Amazon to track exactly that: Damages to the Amazon.

[#biodiversity] — Very interesting report out last week that says that we have to solve both the climate crisis and the nature / biodiversity crisis or we won’t solve either. We can’t just plant big monoculture tree plantations as that will cause total wildlife deserts. As humans we may be at the top of the food chain but we’re still depending on the lower parts of the future chain to exist and thrive. 

🍽 Optimize food

Without the lower impact of food or drink the hero doesn’t work (modified old danish proverb).

[#renewables] — Here’s a look at how one progressive farmer in North Carolina has utilized all kinds of renewable technologies to reduce their carbon footprint. Everything from solar power to harvesting biogas from their manure lagoon.

[#foodemissions] — A study published last week has concluded that the greenhouse gas emissions attributable to food production is a lot higher than previous thought. The authors included everything that could be related to the food system from on-farm activities, to land use change, transportation, retail sale and so on and ended up with a number that corresponded to roughly 40% of all human emissions, up from a previously calculated 20% (which only included on-farm activities).

[#regenerative] — Highly related to last weeks Clubhouse discussion on agriculture and cow masks, this article looks at what a regeneratively-produced egg really means and how good it is for the planet. It’s a great discussion also highlighting some of the known greenwashing in the area.

⚖️ Climate Justice

Without justice there’s no future.

[#lawsuit] — Another climate lawsuit have appeared in Poland, where five citizens have filed a lawsuit against their government for failing to tackle the climate crisis. They say “the state has breached their rights to life, health and family life by delaying action to cut national carbon emissions and propping up the coal industry.”

⬇️ Engineered drawdown and geoengineering

Protecting our planet and species one way or another

[#ccs] — Ketan Joshi tears into the predictions made by the IEA in their recent netzero by 2050 report about how fast carbon capture needs to grow. And it does really look quite ... stunning. Even the amount of solar and wind power we will need needs to accelerate a lot. But the difference between solar / wind and carbon capture is that we know how to do wind and solar, but not how to do carbon capture.

📦 Other / catch-all

All the other stuff that I couldn’t fit into any of the other categories, than the other category.

[#finance] — Denmark’s central bank has released the first in a series of reports on climate change. And the first report argues that the entire financial system is threatened by flood risks. The issue here is real estate. For Denmark alone 6.7B$ in loans (or 7% of all real estate loans) are threatened because the real estate become worthless. Just last week, UK banks was forced to start doing the same analysis as the Danish central bank has just done.

[#financialcrisis] — And related to the previous. A new report highlights that the 11 biggest banks in Europe have 532B$ tied up in fossil fuels which may soon have a value of 0. It seems like that fossil fuels will be Europe’s subprime moment.

[#startups] — Ok I was not sure I was going to post this article but here goes. Or I’m actually more going to post my comments on it that the article itself. TechCrunch writes up a piece on how founders must show investors they’re serious about sustainability and the advice it gives is utter garbage and borderline greenwashing: First startups must listen very closely to customers (how is that sustainable?), then they must *publicly* commit to sustainability goals (yay because commitments have helped us a lot so far), they must have a purpose driven culture (and that is related to sustainability, how?), they must have accountability (and that is related to sustainability, how?) and finally, they must have financial realism (and that is related o sustainability, how?). Seriously, TechCrunch. You can do better than recommending startups that they just greenwash and stay true to their customers.

⭐️Special Topics

🎩 Global and local policy

We have a special interest in covering the major global and local policies regarding climate, whether good or bad.

[#biden] — According to a number of articles this week, it looks like Biden’s infrastructure bill (which is at the core of his climate policy) is really deteriorating day by day, which is really sad. Critics say that the bill is seems more interested in getting bipartisan support than stopping climate breakdown. Which is really sad.

[#g7] — Just before G7 investors controlling 41T$ in assets sent a letter to the G7 governments urging them to stop supporting fossil fuels and to set emission targets that are compliant with Paris. There has been a lot of these, but 41T$ is quite a lot of assets. 

[#feminism] — Here’s a very interesting post on the derived threats of the climate crisis. When many people think about the threats of the climate crisis they think sea level rise and more heat. But probably the most scary consequences are the derived effects from those, which in many cases hints at war. The climate crisis is at it’s essence a security threat and in many cases the knee jerk reaction to a security threat is a military response. This article argues that we must take a more feminist approach.

⛽️Major Carbon Emitters

We have a special interest in covering the moving of the major carbon emitters as these are the key roadblock to climate action.

[#divestment] — Maine becomes the first state in the US to pass a law that requires pension funds and state treasury to divest from coal, oil and gas companies by 2026. A total of 17B$ will be divested. Perhaps in the mean time they can use their influence to affect the boards at those companies.

[#exxon] — Here’s another deep dive into what exactly happened when Exxon lost 3 board seats to the tiny hedgefund Engine no 1. In short: Some how the small fund managed to convince some of the biggest investors: Blackrock, State street and Vanguard to vote for it’s board members. One can only hope that such collaborations between activist investors and investors with big holdings in fossil fuel companies are here to stay.

[#shell] — Shell’s CEO is speaking out after the Dutch ruling forcing the company to reduce it’s scope 3 emissions. Obviously critizing the ruling and insisting on the fact that Shell has been a frontrunner in reducing its emissions. He also calls for more government regulations (which is “funny” since the fossil fuel industry control legislation in most major economies) and vows to help it’s customers into helping them stop their emissions. Yes basically blaming the entire thing on you and me 🙄. Here’s a funny recap of the CEOs LinkedIn post.

[#keystonexl] — In a tremendous victory for all of us the big pipeline in the US known as the Keystone XL just got cancelled last week. The pipeline was supposed to carry dirty Canadian tar sands oil to Nebraska. Biden rescinded the construction permits and now the developer of the pipeline has decided not to build it anyway. 

[#bolsonaro] — If there was a prison for climate deniers, Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro would be rotting in his own cell right now, writes Rolling Stone. “Captain Chain Saw” as he’s also called have torched 10.000 square miles of rainforest since he took office and kind of like Trump was, he’s proud of his track record of killing the planet. 

[#netzero, #twitter] — Another report is out this week scolding net-zero plans for not being enough. And the math kind of makes sense. How I understand it is that a net-zero plan basically says that we’re going to continue to pollute X and we just pay for that X using offsets. Not all offsets are … poor quality (to use a kind word), but a lot of them are. So what a net zero plan in effect means is that we’re just going to pollute more or at the very least pollute the same amount. And that argument sort of makes sense and is obviously bad. It does get quite a bit worse than this and it’s highly recommended to read the article and/or report to dive deeper.

That’s it for this week folks!

Join us on Twitter Spaces on Friday 3pm CET to talk about netzero vs real zero.

Remember if you’re feeling down, angry or sad from some of the news in this newsletter one cure is to act. And one way you can always act that also happens to be one of the most powerful things you can do is to talk about it. That also works if what you just read made you hopeful or happy btw.


If you enjoyed this newsletter don’t forget to share it with your friends, coworkers or other people you think could benefit from getting it. If you got directed here by a friend or another link on the Internet don’t forget to subscribe!

See you all next week 👋