[Oct 26-Nov 1 2020] It’s illegal to solve the climate crisis
Welcome to this weeks edition of The Weekly Climate! 🎉
Thank you for all the feedback I’ve received on e-mail and in the comments on the last newsletter. I generally get the vibe that people like the updated version of the newsletter better. I still want to hear what you think especially if you disagree, so please reach out if that is the case (also if you just want to tell me how awesome it is 🥰).
This week we’re going to look into why solving the climate crisis is illegal today and what you can do about it. And as next week is election week in the U.S. we’re also going to spend a good deal of time talking about that. Booting Trump out of office is pretty much a must do for the climate crisis or the rest of the world is going to have to do something like:
I appreciate those of you who might smile when they see this. But if you think about it, think of the consequences. We cannot let the U.S. government continue doing what Trump has been doing the past 4 years and it seems obvious that measures such as this can only lead to one thing: Conflict 😢.
📰 In the news
Here are the most interesting and important news items from last week!
🇺🇸 Story we follow: U.S. Presidential Election
The U.S. is a major emitter and are run by a climate sceptic and fossil fuel friendly… person. We need a change. And after Joe Biden was elected as the democratic candidate that change has to be him. Hence we keep a close watch on his climate aspirations.
Election is NEXT WEEK! 😱
Why the new judge Amy Barett will pose a problem for climate action even if Biden wins.
Heated looks at the cost of Bidens climate plan vs Trumps, where the latter’s plan can be summed up by “nothing”.
Trump shaking up NOAA: Chief Scientist fired for questioning Trump’s newly instated climate deniers.
Trump to open up Tongass National Forest in Alaska — the largest temporate rainforest left — to logging and other exploitation.
Grist imagines how to solve the climate crisis after the election in a game.
☠️ Story we follow: BPs climate aspirations
BP has announced that it will slash oil production by 40%. If history teaches us anything it is that this will be just another load of bullcrap just like Beyond Petroleum were 20 years ago. But we will see. By putting the story up top here we aim to track it carefully.
Climate & Science
💨 The ‘sleeping giant’ under East Siberia has been triggered, methane releases has begun.
💧Why the record low Arctic Sea ice is alarming.
🚗 Europeans bought more EVs than diesels for the first time ever in September and kids maybe helping.
🔋 Greentech Media takes deep and nerdy look at long duration storage.
💡 Even behind-the-meter storage can beat fossil gas peaker plants at their own game.
💵 Stripe launches their Stripe Climate tool which enable shops to take contributions that will go directly to carbon reduction companies.
🌊 Verdant Power is going to deploy turbines in the East River of New York City to generate tidal power.
👩💼 Great profile of Sarah Kearney of Prime Coalition who pioneered a way to fund cleantech companies with a long horizon.
💰 Investors guide to negative emissions technologies has been published by Principles for Responsible Investment.
Major Carbon Emitters
☠️ Arguably the biggest major carbon emitter news this week is that big auto knew too. E&E News uncovers Ford and GMs role in attacking climate action. But hey you can buy an electric Hummer now 🖕 (which is literally the response from GM).
🧟♂️ These zombies threaten the whole planet about the Canadian oil patch and it’s 100.000 suspended oil wells. Seriously the front page image on this one is more scary than The Walking Dead.
🧛♂️A fossil fuel company paid 9 million $ in bribes and now the U.S. courts is helping it hide it.
🏴☠️ And here’s one I missed from last week but which is too important to miss: Facebook is fast becoming the lobby platform of choice for the fossil fuel industry with Exxon spending millions on the platform to stop climate action.
🇰🇷 South Korea pledges carbon neutrality by 2050 and the same did Japan. With all these popping up one might wonder what the meaning of the UN COP meetings really are apart from being a way for the fossil fuel industry to affect top politicians 🤔?
🇪🇺 EU trying to stop fossil fuels from suing countries due to action on climate, but asian countries including Japan has blocked it (good ol’ capitalism self-protection mechanisms at work).
🛢 Total faces lawsuit for human rights violations in Uganda.
🚛 Cars too dangerous and dirty are being sold by developed countries in developing countries.
🔫 South African climate activist opposing coal mine has been shot dead in her home
All we can save bookclub and other books
📕 Heated “All we can save”-book club week 4 is back (I really don’t know where week 3 went).
A Matter of Degrees — Trump’s Fossil Fuel Bailout: How Trump has given massive bailouts to the fossil fuel industry.
Generation Green New Deal — S1E6 Joe Biden and the Green New Deal: A look at how the Green New Deal has shaped the election.
Drilled — S5E6 A verdict and a new charge: The case takes a bizarre turn with a sting operation, U.S. subpoena’s, accusations of fraud and bribery and a verdict in Ecuador.
The Interchange — The state of carbon capture, removal and utilization: With growing number of carbon neutrality pledges The Interchange looks at the state of carbon capture technology.
Based on the previous newsletter’s discussion of divestment I just happened to discover a podcast series by the podcast Political Climate about this topic which is a few months old. I’ve only listened to one episode but so far it’s very good: Ep1, Ep2, Ep3, Ep4, Ep5, and Ep6.
💪One way to take action: Politics
The Problem: It’s illegal today to solve the climate crisis
We are usually very much focussed on the actual solutions, like solar, wind, nuclear, hydrogen, silvopasture etc for instance in the brilliant work by Project Drawdown. But the climate solutions that we all know and love are not the solutions to the real problem. The real problem is figuring out how we achieve full market adoption of these technologies as fast as possible. The graph above shows various scenarios for market adoption. In the right side of the figure we have market type solutions to this. And while a carbon tax definitely helps it is unlikely to be enough. Instead we need to find a way to ensure that you, me and all of us makes every single purchasing decision right from now and until the crisis is solved. In the 100% replacement at end-of-life scenario you purchase an EV when your old fossil car dies, you replace your gas stove with induction when it fails and so on. The second graph shows why we must do this:
Here he maps the 1.5C, 2C and 3+C scenarios on to the same graph. And we can see that to stand a chance at getting to 1.5C we must at least go with the “100% replacement at end of life”. It should also be noted that today we don’t even have a meaningful carbon tax.
The bad news is that this is very likely impossible. For a whole bunch of complicated reasons it’s extremely unlikely that these purchasing decisions will be made correct. And this is where things like climate justice etc comes in, because it seems unlikely / impossible even that a poor person in Africa would be able to invest in a solar panel instead of taking the coal plant that the government is installing. This is also why we must cut the bullshit that fixing climate change can’t cost anything. It’s us in the rich part of the world that must pay for this. There’s simply no other way.
But that is not happening without politicians. That’s why solving the climate crisis is illegal today.
Solution(s): Get politicians in-line
So how do we get politicians to make it legal to solve climate change? I feel as disillusioned as the next person about this, but we must try because there’s no other option.
There are many sub-solutions to this and one big one is the killing the fossil fuel industry lobby which we discussed last week (but will dive deeper into at some later newsletter). The enemy is lobbying hard against any form of climate action and they’re outspending us 10 to 1.
Instead we must use tried and true democratic techniques to circumvent the status quo. The one thing that sitting politicians is afraid of is losing power and the one thing that opposing politicians want is gaining power. And that is what we must exploit.
One action: Pressure, pressure, pressure
Historically, there’s only three things that has worked for getting politicians to act:
Vote: With the U.S. election coming up on tuesday next week this is probably the most important thing anyone can do. And don’t think that just because you’re in the EU or some other place that this is not something you can affect. Talk with all your U.S. friends and colleagues about this and ask them how you can help. Getting Trump out of office is probably the single thing that must happen at pretty much all costs. And all it potentially takes is moving 1 vote.
Join Extinction Rebellion: Once politicians are in power, they immediately get locked in all kinds of power structures that might prevent them from doing anything. The only tried and true technique that has worked in the past is civil disobedience. It helped abolish apartheid, give women the vote, gave India it’s independence and so on. The primary group doing that currently is Extinction Rebellion. Find the XR chapter in your country and join.
Join / support NGOs: There are many NGOs who works on trying to affect politicians to take climate action: 350.org, Sunrise Movement, Friends of the Earth, and so on. See a list of 30 here. And for the majority of my Danish readers here’s a link to the Danish chapter of 350. Find one that resonate with you, give what you can, help them out as a volunteer or join an event
The final thing you can do is use your voice. Ultimately, if we can make politicians see that every single one of us demands climate action then they’re going to give us that. But in just about all parts of the world it’s still a “niche” political topic that is pretty much only popular with the least powerful voter group in the population: Youth. But they showed that there’s power in numbers. That’s why it’s especially important that if you don’t belong to this group, that you use your voice. Talk with your friends and family about it, post articles on SoMe’s, and get them to see how important this issue is for their future and their childrens future. Especially if they resist, then keep on raising the issue.
Community: Help us stranger
What do you think about political action? Are you happy with the current status quo? What else can we do to act? What else can we do to get politicians to act? Have you already joined some of these groups? What are you hearing from your friends when you discuss climate change with them?
And remember, the most important thing you can do for the climate this week is talking to your U.S. friends and colleagues about climate change and the election. I’ve given you plenty of ammunition to take down Trump on climate action 😎.
Let me know in the comments below how you see political action and how we can get it work for climate action.
That’s it for this week folks! If you feel like I’m missing something, please let me know.
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See you all next week 👋