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!)

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In Pop Culture:
progressive commercial

Who else loves the Progressive commercials about not turning into your parents?! Well surprisingly, I’ve got some beef with the latest one where they claim that empty tubs of butter are for recycling and not for leftovers. Wrong! It’s called reuse, and considering the national plastics recycling rate is sub 10%, the choice to give a second life to the unfortunate packaging situation we have to deal with is a SMART one. So perhaps sometimes we do want to be like our parents – and even like their parents. The ‘milkman model’ was inherently a closed loop system without plastic, afterall.

GETTING DOWN TO CLIMATE BUSINESS:

💨 Renewable energy nerds rejoice: the US finally has its first large scale offshore wind farms sending electricity to da grid. This week, Vineyard Wind, a 64-turbine wind farm off the coast of Massachusetts switched online. And once all turbines are installed this year, the project will power 400K homes. Last month, New York’s South Fork Wind off the coast of Montauk sent its first transmission of power to land. The US offshore wind industry has struggled for decades to get off the…sea, and even now cancellations of projects continue to persist amid these inflationary times. But today, let’s celebrate the win: the birth of a clean industry that will be critical in meeting the widely agreed upon COP28 promise to triple our renewable energy capacity by 2030.

🚧 Louisiana may become a hub for the carbon capture and storage industry. The Biden administration has given the state the power to issue permits for carbon storage wells. Aside from North Dakota and Wyoming, the EPA owns the permitting process for such projects elsewhere across the country. But in a state home to “cancer alley”, critics of the decision are wary that Louisiana will prioritize environmental or health concerns related to the projects, which involve building pipelines to move CO2 that is captured at a source like a coal plant and moving it to a well where it’s injected deep underground. The jury’s out as to whether this tech is scalable – despite decades of R&D, the IEA estimates only 0.1% of annual emissions have been successfully captured.

🏅 Paris set a big goal for this summer’s Olympic Games: to cut carbon emissions in half compared to previous Games. And they look to be on track and then some, thanks to a wildly radical approach: considering the environmental impact of decisions before they are made 🤯, and executing accordingly. To this end, the city is primarily using existing venues and infrastructure – they claim to have built only one (!) new major legacy venue, an aquatics center. Other cool things they’re implementing: eliminating diesel generators by connecting all sites to the national electricity grid, forgoing AC units in the athlete’s village and using an underground geothermal cooling system, planning for circularity where all chairs, tables, etc will be reused after the event, and perhaps the most fun one is a ban on single-use plastics, where anyone trying to get into an event with a plastic water bottle in tow will be turned away. But the real feat will be getting the Seine clean enough to swim in for the marathon swimming and triathlon events – it hasn’t been safe for swimming since 1923.

🚢 In another example of adapting to these climate times, Battleship North Carolina, the most decorated U.S. battleship of World War II, and one of North Carolina’s most popular tourist attractions, is surrendering to the relentless rising tide that floods its parking lot and access roads more than half the year. The Memorial site is working with a design and engineering firm so that it can exist in partnership with nature, essentially allowing the water to come in and create a new natural habitat. Plans include replanting native vegetation along the coastline to mitigate tidal erosion and revitalize biodiversity, restoring the parking lot to wetlands, and building a raised parking area that also manages stormwater runoff. Nature for the win.

❄️ As the Northeast finally welcomes its first winter storm, the situation is even more dire out West where a snow shortage is not only threatening downhill winter sports, but it will impact water supply that is increasingly critical during the ever-hotter summer months. The importance of snow is nicely depicted here: “The snow that blankets mountain ranges in winters serves as a vital reservoir that is released when temperatures rise each summer. The snowmelt cools rivers enough to sustain salmon runs, propels hydropower systems that provide the region’s electricity and feeds irrigation channels needed to supply the nation’s apples, blueberries and almonds.” Fingers crossed the back half of the season brings lots of snow.

💰 In 2023 big banks earned more money in fees from their lending activities for ‘green/environmentally friendly’ projects ($3B) than from dirty coal, oil, and gas projects ($2.7B). But don’t be fooled! Financing the energy transition is far off the mark. BloombergNEF estimates that four times as much capital needs to be allocated to green projects as to fossil fuels by 2030 to align with net zero emissions targets.

$1.5B: VENTURE CAPITAL INVESTMENT IN HYDROGEN STARTUPS WAS THIS MUCH IN 2023, EQUAL TO THE PAST TWO YEARS COMBINED (PITCHBOOK)

1: MOVE OVER QATAR, THE U.S. NOW HOLDS THE TOP SPOT AS THE WORLD’S LEADING EXPORTER OF LIQUEFIED NATURAL GAS IN 2023 (BLOOMBERG)

The Parks Are Crowded

The good news is that more people are getting outside and enjoying our National Parks. The bad news is that more people are getting outside and enjoying our National Parks. Due to overcrowding, the Parks are trying out and keeping various forms of a reservation system. To help navigate the intricacies and plan ahead, here’s a list of top Parks and their respective rules of enjoyment for 2024. Hmmm, I wonder if a ‘PreCheck for Parks’ could someday be a thing…