Hey climate heroes! Welcome to The Climate Roundup, where we round up the change, er the news about climate and the environment. As part of the Gen E community, we thank you for making climate action part of everyday life. (Reading this newsletter counts!)
In Pop Culture:
While en route to his annual World Climate Summit in Austria, Arnold Schwarzenegger and his to-be-auctioned Audemars Piguet watch were detained in Munich because he didn’t declare the watch to customs. Arnold is now facing criminal tax charges. But fret not – a little brush with bureaucracy can’t stop The Terminator. The watch went on to be auctioned for $294K, with the proceeds going to the Schwarzenegger Climate Initiative, an organization that supports environmental projects around the world. Just another day’s work in the life of a climate hero.
GETTING DOWN TO CLIMATE BUSINESS:
John Kerry is leaving his post as U.S. special presidential envoy for climate in the coming months, and in the near term, he’ll focus on sharpening the climate narrative for Biden’s reelection campaign. Kerry has been a strong, respectable force in the geopolitical climate space, plus he’s had a productive relationship with his climate envoy counterpart in China, that other big global polluter. The climate envoy role was created specifically for Kerry, and no word yet about a replacement. Mr. Kerry, thank you for your service.
🙌 The crackdown on greenwashing is getting real in the EU. Starting in 2026, companies can no longer market their products as being “climate neutral” or “climate positive” – claims made from the purchasing of carbon offsets, a practice which will be flat-out banned. Impressive move, EU. Carbon offsetting has repeatedly been proven to be worthless, yet the voluntary market for this scheme continues to grow because it allows polluters to keep on polluting, so long as they plant a tree somewhere else. Greenwashing the truth about the environmental toll of consumer products and services is now common practice. Laws like this will help expose the reality that at this point in time, there’s no such thing as a carbon neutral flight, carbon neutral milk, or a carbon neutral World Cup. C’mon now.
🐳 Some positive news for whales in the Antarctic. After being nearly wiped out due to whaling in the early 1900’s, humpback whales are returning to a bay off the coast of South Georgia for the first time since 1966, when whaling ended in the region. Scientists think new generations of whales had to rediscover this area as a feeding ground, and they’ve been monitoring the humpback’s recovery over the past decade. But it’s not all rainbows and butterflies – one of the biggest threats to them now is getting struck by ships, especially as cruise ships frequent the area. Local authorities are considering a mandatory speed limit, which would help lessen the threat. I wonder if they’ve considered employing a team of Killer Whale Cops to keep the ships in line? Slow down or get sunk. Damn that’d be a great animated movie.
🧊 A new study finds that Greenland’s glaciers have lost 20% more ice than previously thought. This is important because of the implications for sea level rise (Greenland’s melting glaciers are the largest contributor) and its effect on ocean currents and global weather patterns. The study used both manual and AI-generated observations from 1985 to 2022, and the data they generated can help improve future modeling in Earth science. That’s great, but any news about glaciers retreating for good is hauntingly sad.
👩⚖️ Norway is a real hotbed for climate news. This time they find themselves on the losing end of a court case brought against them by climate activists, who argued that development and production on three oil fields should stop because the impact of emissions was not considered. That’s illegal. The court ruled in favor of the climate warriors, which adds another W to the board for climate lawsuits. A few more and we could really see the scales tip in favor of protecting a healthy planet.
3°C: THE WORLD IS HEADED TOWARDS THIS LEVEL OF WARMING ON THE CURRENT EMISSIONS TRACK (UNEP)
50%: DEFORESTATION IN BRAZIL’S AMAZON FELL THIS MUCH IN 2023 (BBC)
Reign of the Train
Low emissions travel is getting easier in Europe where many new train tracks have sprung up recently, allowing travelers to take the scenic route from place to place. Paris seems to be leading the pack, offering several new connections including overnight trains to Berlin, Vienna, and Nice. High-speed trains are also gaining ground, and Japan will start running bullet trains from Tokyo to the magical-sounding Fukui Prefecture on the western coast. Even the US is jumping on the party train – Amtrak seems back on track to add more high-speed options in the Northeast Corridor, in Florida you can train between Orlando and Miami, and there’s a plan to connect LA and Vegas by rail.