[May 31 - Jun 6 ‘21] Announcing Deep Dives
Pesticides are killing our soils, climate action is good business, big oils bad month, small oil and gas produce more methane emissions and a new clubhouse event!
Welcome to this week’s edition of The Weekly Climate 🎉
Announcement: Deep dives & Clubhouse
Thanks to those who joined our Clubhouse event last week. I learned a ton from the interview with Betsy Middleton about how shareholder activism work and how it’s really a quite powerful way to force companies to change. That’s why I have decided to add another feature to this newsletter — well two to be exact but they’re related.
👋 Clubhouse: The clubhouse discussions are here to stay. I really believe the format provides a great way to get deeper into interesting topics from the past week. Each week I will announce a topic at the Monday morning newsletter and I will try to find a speaker to interview at the Clubhouse event during the week. After the interview, you can bring forward a topic that you think is interesting and we will all discuss it. It doesn’t have to be related to the topic I pick. I will try to schedule these at Wednesdays 3pm CET, but since I only know the topic during the weekend of a week the exact timeslot might move around to accomodate interviewee availability. Finally, we now have a club on Clubhouse called Weekly Climate. Be sure to follow it if you’re interested in these sessions.
🤓 Deep Dive Wednesday: I’m going to use the opportunity to interview an expert at the Clubhouse sessions to write a deep dive on a particular topic. These deep dives will arrive in your inbox on Wednesdays. The first one will therefore be about shareholder activism and will feature details from the interview with Betsy Middleton from Follow This.
What do you think about this? Let me know either by commenting below or pinging me on e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
👋 Clubhouse topic of the week: Cows 🐮
Search for #clubhouse below to see which articles is included in that. Here’s a link to the room on Clubhouse and don’t forget to follow the club Weekly Climate. I still have a few invites left in case anybody wants a freebie (e-mail me at email@example.com).
‼️News you can’t miss
Here’s one important scary/bad (🙀), good (😻), interesting (😼) and fossil (💩) news item.
🙀 A new report confirms that pesticides are literally killing the soils of our planet.
😻 Engine no 1 (the tiny hedgefund that led shareholder rebellion at Exxon last week) has declared that it’s not doing it for climate reasons alone but simply because it’s good business.
😼 Here’s a walkthrough of Big Oils Bad Month
💩 A new report shows that small oil and gas producers produce and outsized amount of methane emissions.
👩⚕️ Status: Climate & Science
Let’s look at how we’re doing this week!
[#arctic] — A new study has found that arctic sea ice is thinning twice as fast as we thought. This has a lot of complications. First of all, thinning ice means more heat absorption by the surface and it also means that gas and oil exploration becomes more easy hence likely increasing the ice thinning.
[#clouds] — A new study concludes that the cooling effects of clouds may be underestimated in the currently used climate models. This article over on Carbon Brief dives deep into the effects of this.
[#tippingpoints] — A new study seems to indicate that the known climate tipping points could topple like dominoes. The study seems to indicate that we may have a shorter time than expected to lower greenhouse gas emissions. So what are waiting for?
[#health] — A new study has examined heat deaths btween 1991 and 2018 and determined that climate is responsible for about half of them or about 15M people.
📰 The 7 Grand Challenges
Clean electricity is the one do-or-die challenge we must solve.
[#fusion] — China’s EAST fusion reactor beat another world record last week. It managed to sustain a core temperature of 120 MILLION (!) C for 102 seconds. This is obviously not enough to do anything useful but it shows that fusion technology is developing at a rapid pace. But whether fast enough? Time will tell.
[#markets] — Remember the Texas Big Freeze in Feb? The big cold wave that causes widespread electricity outages in Texas? Here’s a deep dive into the electricity markets role in the outages. Short answer: Yes they definitely did play a role in the failure.
[#wind] — A company is designing beautiful and colorful wind turbines in order to help curb some of the NIMBYism (not in my backyard-ism) that are happening in regards to wind turbines. Their turbines are more silent and frankly looks nicer.
🏘 Reduce impact of urban and rural areas
Lowering the impact of urban and rural areas.
[#electrification] — I’ve written many times about electrification before but usually from the perspective of Saul Griffiths great work at Rewiring America. But now the National Renewable Energy Lab just finished a 4 year project about the same topic and they just released their final report detailing how the US can do it and what it looks like. Details in the link.
[#fashion] — A new book called “Unraveled” dives into the fashion horror story. How the fashion industry today causes environmental harm and human rights abuses all over the world. So called fast fashion is the biggest enemy here.
[#heatpumps] — Thinking about getting a heat pump, but don’t have solar? Well what are you waiting for? This article by Reneweconomy are looking at how heat pumps are in fact great to have even though you don’t have solar. The article is focussing on the Australian market but I’m sure many of the findings apply to other countries. Also a new report in Germany has looked at heat pumps and how the chemicals used to harvest the energy has a high risk of polluting water.
[#realestate] — US real estate websites recently began adding climate risk data to their websites to give potential buyers and indication of how likely it is that a given house is to be subjected to flood risks. Not sure how this is in other countries but here in Denmark we have had that for quite some time.
🛁 Clean non-electrifiable activities
Some activities we do today can’t be electrified, these must be cleaned some other way.
[#shipping] — As a part of an initiative which in the best “managementese” style is being called “Mission Innovation” the governments of Denmark, Norway and the US alongside Mærsk and the International Maritime Organisation launched an initiative to accelerate public-private partnerships to achieve zero emission shipping.
[#shipping] — ... and if you’re annoyed by my negative attitude in the previous item then this New York Times article explains why. In it they reveal that the International Maritime Organisation (which is a UN body) has repeatedly stalled and watered down any attempts to regulate the shipping industry. The reason being that many of the delegates selected are people with huge financial ties to the shipping industry.
🌳 Protect and grow nature
Nature is our ally, we must protect it and help it help us.
[#restoration] — A new report by the UN makes it clear that the world must restore 1B hectares of land by 2030 (or an area a little bigger than half the size of Russia). The problem we need to solve is not just a climate problem. Humans currently use 1.6 times the resources that nature can sustainably produce.
[#wildfire] — 10% of the world’s largest trees, the Sequoias, burned in last year in one fire named the Castle Fire. Usually Sequoias can live for thousands of years. In related news, YC startup Gridware has raised a 5.3M$ seed round to further develop their solution to prevent suburban wildfires. The startups solution is a box with sensors mounted to a telephone pole, which can analyze a lot of different data and report that back to relevant authorities.
[#lakes] — A new study has determined that the past 40 years there has been a 3-9x increase in the rate of decline of oxygen levels in lakes compared to periods before that. This is bad news for those of us that rely on fresh water to drink. Main cause: Climate change. Warmer water can’t hold as much oxygen as colder water can.
🍽 Optimize food
Without the lower impact of food or drink the hero doesn’t work (modified old danish proverb).
[#pesticides, #clubhouse] — A new report confirms that pesticides which are used in the vast majority of farms around the world are quite literally killing the soils of the Earth. The report studies the pesticides’ impact on various parameters of soil health. There’s no reason to carry on doing this as all of us relies on healthy soils to live. Still I’m sure that the big agriculture lobby’s will kill any and all attempts at regulation just as they have done for many many years already.
[#cowmask, #clubhouse] — A startup in the UK called Zelp are developing a burping mask for cows that can cut up to 53% of methane emissions from the cows burps. The eye-opener for me in this article is that the authors state that 95% of cow-related methane emissions comes from their burps. Perhaps it could be very interesting to merge this mask with regenerative agriculture to truly remove cows carbon footprint.
⚖️ Climate Justice
Without justice there’s no future.
[#legal] — There are a couple of places where it appears that we’re making headway in the climate battle. Shareholder activism is one area and another area is via the law. Just the week before last Shell lost a landmark case on Big Fossils Bad Day and we’re seeing climate lawsuits pop up all around the world. This detailed articled by Inside Climate News goes into detail about the history and the workings of these lawsuits.
[#aid] — A new report by NGO Care Denmark points pretty strong fingers at the G7 for not committing enough money to support poorer countries in the climate fight. In their report they highlight that only UK and the US have put forth plans to increase climate finance in the last months. In 2009 G7 countries committed 100B$ a year to developing countries, which are not even close to have been met.
📦 Other / catch-all
All the other stuff that I couldn’t fit into any of the other categories, than the other category.
[#greenbanks] — In this article Vox dives into a financial instrument apparently popular in the UK before 2017 called a “green bank”. From what I can tell a green bank launches using government funding, but then uses private funding to invest in various big green energy projects and are apparently good business, since the UK sold theirs in 2017.
[#hockeystick] — The IEA’s recent landmark report which stated that fossil fuel production must stop, gives quite a lot of credit to technologies that doesn’t really work at scale such as bioenergy such as biofuels. The problem is that the few biofuels available today at scale are mostly worse than their fossil fuel counterparts.
[#investing] — The European commission and Bill Gates has launched a 1B$ initiative to fund a host of technologies across clean tech. Everything from Long duration energy storage to sustainable aviation fuels.
🎩 Global and local policy
We have a special interest in covering the major global and local policies regarding climate, whether good or bad.
[#investing] — A new report has revealed that the G7 countries are spending way more on fossil fuels than on green energy. In total 189B$ is spent on fossil fuels and 147B$ on clean energy.I must admit that I wasn’t expecting anything else, and was actually expecting the gap to be larger. Still in a time where we’re supposed to be scaling down on fossil fuels this does look very silly.
[#biden] — One of Trump’s last and most signatory actions was to give out a bunch of drilling licenses in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge to the fossil fuel industry. President Biden just suspended all those licenses. Kind of expected and great he pulled through with it. This is important as his 2T$ climate plan is being watered down according to many environmentalists. Biden’s 2T$ climate plan looks like a small green new deal but in reality it is lacking a lot of things to make it the climate bill that most had dreamed of. Key features that have been taken are things like requiring electricity to be produced by clean sources are clearly not a good sign.
[#subsidies] — Texas legislators has succesfully killed a 10B$ tax hand out program to the fossil fuel industry. With all the stuff that happened to the fossil fuel industry last week, this gigantic piece of news seem to have slipped under the radar.
[#cop] — If there are anybody out there who still believe the 26 COP meetings can achieve anything, here’s a good discussion of what it might take to make them more inclusive and in these COVID times it’s very wellknown technology: Digital communication technology. In this article an activist tells the story of how they managed to get their voices heard at the COP meeting in 2019 despite quite bad circumstances.
⛽️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.
[#bigoilsbadmonth] — If you just emerged from under your rock after staying there for about a month Amy Westervelt walks you through all the battles we won against the fossil fuel industry this past month.
[#activistshareholder] — Exxon ended up losing not 2, but 3 board seats to the tiny activist hedge fund Engine no 1. Very related to a question asked by a listener at our Clubhouse event last Thursday, Engine no 1 is not doing it for the climate’s sake (at least not publicly). But simply because having a strong climate strategy makes good business sense. Gizmodo took a deep dive in the 3 board members that the hedge fund managed to get elected and while it sure is a good development it’s not euphoric about all of them.
[#euemissions] — Is this? Good news? According to Europe’s environmental watchdog EEA, Europes greenhouse gas emissions dropped by 3.8% in 2019. Note 2019, not 2020 as a result of COVID. Thus bringing Europe’s total emission reductions to 24% compared to 1990 levels. While the article seem to indicate that this makes it highly likely that Europe will reach it’s 55% goal in the next decade. I don’t really get it why, since we spent 30 years getting to 24%, how can we do another 31% in 10 years?
[#gasstoves] — For those who need a “joky” explanation why gas stoves are bad here’s a pretty viral worthy video made by US comedian Samantha Bee. That also dives into how the gas industry paid instagram influencers and threaten US legislators with COVID positive demonstrations. I’m not sure anybody needs a joky version but just in case some of your stubborn friends didn’t like my other warnings about gas stoves and the gas industry then this might! #seductioninduction ... but that’s just one thing. Another is that new leaked e-mails prove that the gas industry is behind US legislators reluctance to ban new gas hookups.
[#methane] — … and staying on methane emissions. A new analysis by the US EPA has found that small oil and gas producers contribute more to the emissions of the sector when compared to their production. The 195 smallest oil and gas producers are responsible for 22% of emissions of the sector but only account for 9% of production.
[#amazonwatch] — Amazon Watch just released a report on how “the big three” asset managers (BlackRock, Vanguard and State Street) are holding 46B$ in oil stock which actively contribute to human rights abuses, forest destruction, bio diversity loss and climate change. The report lists 5 actions that the big three must do which both includes divestment and being more active on pro-climate voting in the boards.
[#coal] — A new interactive tool was released by Ember which enable anyone to see global coal imports and exports. It shows a lot of interesting things such as emissions from Australia’s coal exports emits more CO2 than Germany.
That’s it for this week folks!
Join us on Clubhouse on Wednesday 3pm (unless otherwise noted) to talk about cows!
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. Which you can do at our Clubhouse event as well! What do you know! That also works if what you just read made you hopeful or happy btw.
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See you all next week 👋