Climate Change ☀️
Want Environmental Justice? Look to Energy Efficiency.
There is no silver bullet for reducing this burden, but energy efficiency is a grossly undervalued solution, particularly as we work simultaneously to tackle the climate crisis in way that promotes environmental justice. In fact, given energy efficiency’s ability to reduce costs, cut pollution and create jobs, I would argue that the conversation so many of us are having about environmental justice and climate policy — and that the White House put in the headlines last week — should start with energy efficiency.

Consider that energy consumption in the U.S. and related emissions would be about 60 percent higher today if not for the efficiency gains we’ve made since 1980, which has saved consumers $800 billion annually on energy bills. Consider that one efficiency program alone — the Department of Energy’s minimum efficiency standards for common appliances – saves the average household more than $500 per year. Consider that the International Energy Agency projects that energy efficiency, using existing technology, can account for nearly half of the emissions reductions needed to meet the goals of the Paris climate accord.

As we look to create greater economic opportunity for all communities, energy efficiency also offers an enormous opportunity for job creation. Already, the energy efficiency sector is one of the largest energy workforces in America with more than 2 million employees — 12 times the size of the coal industry and nearly seven times that of wind and solar combined. Most of those jobs are in construction and manufacturing — making and installing insulation, windows, ductwork and other building components — and 80 percent of efficiency companies are small businesses with fewer than 20 employees. So there is a tremendous opportunity for growing and diversifying the workforce and stimulating entrepreneurship in underserved communities.


... As President Joe Biden has proposed, we need to do more to make sure that affordable housing is as efficient as possible by building it right in the first place and lowering operating costs for the life of the home. Energy bills, after all, are often the second-highest cost of owning a home behind the mortgage.
Read the full article: https://www.politico.com/news/agenda/2021/02/01/you-want-environmental-justice-look-to-energy-efficiency-463839

Exxon Mobil to invest $3 billion in carbon capture and other projects to lower emissions.
Exxon Mobil, which has long been criticized by environmentalists and some investors and elected leaders for not doing enough to curb climate change, said on Monday it would invest $3 billion over the next five years in energy projects that lower emissions.

The company said the first area it would work on is capturing carbon dioxide emissions from industrial plants and storing the gas so it does not enter the atmosphere, where it contributes to global warming. Many climate experts have said that such carbon capture and sequestration will be critical in the fight against climate change.
Read the full article: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/01/business/energy-environment/exxon-mobil-carbon-capture.html

Federal Scientists Confirm Virtual Tie For Hottest Year On Record
Federal scientists have confirmed that 2020 basically tied with 2016 for the hottest year recorded since 1880. The Earth is about 2 degrees Fahrenheit warmer today than it was in the mid-20th century. Scientists warn that humans must keep global temperatures from rising more than about 3 degrees Fahrenheit in order to avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change.

... No matter how scientists slice the numbers, the pace of global warming is clear. All ten of the hottest years on record have occurred since 2005. The decade that ended in 2020 was the hottest decade on record. The global temperature has increased by about a tenth of a degree Fahrenheit each decade since 1880, and more than twice that quickly since 1981.

North America is heating up slightly faster than the global average. The average annual temperature on the continent has increased by about half a degree Fahrenheit per decade since 1981.

... The extra heat fueled record-breaking disasters in the U.S. 2020 smashed the previous record for the number of climate-driven disasters, including hurricanes, floods, droughts and wildfires, that caused more than $1 billion in damage. The previous record set in both 2011 and 2017 was 16 such large-scale catastrophes. The new record is 22, including 7 hurricanes, a wildfire and a drought.
Read the full article: https://www.npr.org/2021/01/14/955997915/federal-scientists-confirm-virtual-tie-for-hottest-year-on-record

After a Bruising Year, the Oil Industry Confronts a Diminished Future
Exxon Mobil, BP and other large oil companies collectively lost tens of billions of dollars last year, posting their worst performance in years and, for some companies, in decades.

The pandemic was largely to blame. It sapped demand for gasoline, diesel and jet fuel as countries and states locked down and people stayed home. But such painful years could become more commonplace as growing concerns about climate change, tighter regulations, and the rise of electric cars and trucks force a reckoning for an industry that has dominated the global economy over much of the last century. General Motors further raised the stakes for the industry last week when it said it aimed to do away with internal combustion engines and sell only electric cars by 2035.

The oil industry is slowly transitioning to a future dominated by cleaner energy. BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Total and other European companies are investing considerable resources in offshore wind and solar energy while cutting back on oil. But those investments are unlikely to pay off for years, maybe even a decade or two.


... The industry has suffered repeated shocks in recent years, with prices plummeting during the recession that started in December 2007, again in 2015 when OPEC flooded the market with crude to undercut American production, and last year, when the pandemic took hold.

The industry’s pain forced many companies to lay off employees and cut dividends. Dozens of once high-flying businesses, like Chesapeake Energy, declared bankruptcy in recent years.

Even now, when conditions seem to be improving, the industry’s prospects remain uncertain. Because of the emergence of new coronavirus variants, it is not clear how quickly the United States, Europe and other major economies will get virus spread under control. And then there are the larger questions about climate change.
Read the full article: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/02/business/energy-environment/exxon-mobil-bp-2020-loss.html

Automakers Drop Efforts to Derail California Climate Rules
Toyota, Fiat Chrysler and several other major automakers said Tuesday they would no longer try to block California from setting its own strict fuel-economy standards, signaling that the auto industry is ready to work with President Biden on his largest effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The decision by the companies was widely expected, coming after General Motors dropped its support for the Trump-era effort just weeks after the presidential election. But the shift may help the Biden administration move quickly to reinstate national fuel-efficiency standards that would control planet-warming auto pollution, this time with support from industry giants that fought such regulations for years.

“After four years of putting us in reverse, it is time to restart and build a sustainable future, grow domestic manufacturing, and deliver clean cars for America,” said Gina McCarthy, the senior White House climate change adviser. “We need to move forward — and fast.”

The auto giants’ announcements come on top of a 2020 commitment by five other companies — Ford, Honda, BMW, Volkswagen and Volvo — that they would abide by California’s tough standards.
Read the full article: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/02/climate/automakers-climate-change.html

US Cities Are Vastly Undercounting Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Researchers Find
The average error is nearly 20 percent, according to a study published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications. The researchers suggested that if that error was consistent across all American cities, the resulting annual missed emissions would be nearly one-quarter higher than those of the entire state of California.

Nearly three-quarters of the carbon dioxide generated from fossil fuels comes from cities, the researchers said, and urban areas will continue to boom in coming years. Many cities around the world have set ambitious goals to lessen their burden to the planet, but there is not yet a consistent way for them to measure the amount of carbon dioxide or to gauge any reductions. The new research shows that voluntary efforts by cities to measure those emissions are inconsistent and flawed.

Since hundreds of cities across the United States have pledged to greatly reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, accurate measurement is an essential element of knowing where they stand and whether they are making progress toward meeting their goals.


... Some cities’ underestimates were enormous. Cleveland’s reported emissions were 90 percent lower than the researchers’ estimates. And some cities actually reported their emissions were higher than the scientists’ estimates: The estimate by Palo Alto, Calif., was about 42 percent higher.

Dr. Gurney said that the errors seemed to be simple miscalculations. “I don’t think there’s any attempt to systematically or intentionally underestimate emissions,” he said. Although some cities correctly estimated their emissions, he noted, though “whether that’s right for the right reasons or right for the wrong reasons, it’s difficult to know.”

... The cities’ efforts so far, Dr. Gurney said, have been a laudable endeavor, but “they haven’t had a lot of tools to do it.” What’s more, he said, “Cities are struggling to pick up the garbage and fill potholes, much less keep detailed reports about their emissions.”

Reducing emissions in a city, he said, requires a deep understanding of where the biggest problems are, including specific traffic-choked highways and industries, so that the authorities can take focused actions that provide the greatest benefit at the lowest cost. Putting in high-occupancy vehicle lanes or rapid bus lanes on every highway could be wasteful; it would be better, he said, to know which road projects could do the most good.
Read the full article: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/02/climate/cities-greenhouse-gas-emissions.html

Climate change, periodic modification of Earth’s climate brought about as a result of changes in the atmosphere as well as interactions between the atmosphere and various other geologic, chemical, biological, and geographic factors within the Earth system.

Source: Climate change - Evidence for climate change | Britannica
Climate Change is the defining issue of our time and we are at a defining moment. From shifting weather patterns that threaten food production, to rising sea levels that increase the risk of catastrophic flooding, the impacts of climate change are global in scope and unprecedented in scale. Without drastic action today, adapting to these impacts in the future will be more difficult and costly.

Source: Climate Change | United Nations