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:
Cate Blanchett and Prince William were among the celebrities at the Prince’s Earthshot Prize ceremony this week. Blanchett wore a Stella McCartney suit made of recycled materials, and the Prince wore a 10-year-old jacket. Somehow I think it’s held onto its value more than my 10-year-old jackets.
GETTING DOWN TO CLIMATE BUSINESS:
🇨🇳 According to US Climate Envoy John Kerry, the US and China have come to “agreements and understandings” in the lead-up to COP28. After four days of “tough and serious” talks, the two nations, who are the world’s two highest emitters, came to a mutual understanding “by focusing on more renewables and other kinds of things.” Full details of the agreement haven’t been reached yet, but apparently, “one important agreement reached on climate loss and damage would allow any country to contribute to a fund to support the regions most vulnerable to climate impacts.” I’m glad we’re finding common ground, but it doesn’t feel like a huge achievement to get the US and China to agree to say, “Hey if anyone else wants to chip in, that’s fine with us!”
🐘 This week was another Republican primary debate, and if you’re wondering where the candidates stand on climate change, this is a pretty handy guide. Generally, the candidates agree that “the focus should be on China and India,” who they point to as top polluters (note that the US still outranks India on emissions, but as the standard of living across India increases, it’s likely that their emissions will increase as well). They also generally call for increased energy production, which includes (and typically prioritizes) energy that comes from fossil fuels. Of all the major candidates, Chris Christie is the one who gives the most support to expanding renewables. That makes him my default Republican pick, though, as a Brooklyn resident, it pains me to support anyone from New Jersey.
♨️ Good news! More Americans are installing heat pumps than ever before. The bad news? The rate of uptake is slowing. There are a few reasons: rising interest rates have scared off most potential heat-pump users who can’t afford to buy one without borrowing, inflation has made everything more expensive, and the rollout of government incentives for heat pump purchases has been “slow and confusing.” These incentives are part of the Inflation Reduction Act, and they only take about $2000 off the $16,000 price tag of a typical heat pump – and they come in the form of a tax rebate and not a subsidy, which makes them a little harder to visualize in your budget. Next year, the heat pump incentive will increase to $8000, but that timing varies from state to state, because the program is run by state governments. And if there’s one thing you want to do when your heater breaks right before Thanksgiving, it’s parse a bunch of government documents about infrastructure funding rollouts.
🌱 For a long time, the federal Farm Bill has created perverse incentives for farmers that encouraged them to grow and harvest their crops in unsustainable ways. But the new proposed text of the Farm Bill could provide assistance to help farmers plant more sustainably, including by planting cover crops, reducing their use of nitrogen-based fertilizer, and altering feeding times and contents to reduce the methane produced by livestock. However, thanks to the dysfunction in government, it’s far from assured that these important changes will wind up in the final version of the Farm Bill. With the looming threat of a government shutdown, a distracting and inevitably contentious presidential election, and a house controlled by a party that hasn’t made climate a priority, it’s going to be tough to get all those climate provisions to stick. Which means it’s time for us to do our vocal warmups and call our reps! (You can do it, Gen-Z. Be brave!)
🦘 Australia has signed a pact with the tiny island nation of Tuvalu “to provide climate, economic and security assistance.” The treaty’s most significant clause is the pathway for Tuvalu citizens to come to Australia. Tuvalu is one of the nations that will be most impacted by climate change, and finding a safe haven for its citizens will be essential. But we need to stay alert, because there seems to be room in this agreement for some funny business — immigration is always a tricky issue, and it doesn’t guarantee climate refugees citizen status. Not to mention, they’re going to have to live in a country with gigantic spiders.
👋 West Virginia’s very own Joe Manchin announced he won’t seek re-election for his House seat. Manchin has been a… fraught figure in climate circles. On the one hand, my man loved oil and gas. On the other, the IRA probably wouldn’t have passed without him. Here’s a more detailed breakdown of his climate legacy. Seeya later, Joe. It’s something unpredictable, but in the end it’s right. I hope he had the time of his life.
25: THE US HAS EXPERIENCED THIS MANY BILLION-DOLLAR DISASTERS SO FAR THIS YEAR (VOA NEWS)
110%: THE WORLD IS ON TRACK TO PRODUCE THIS MUCH MORE OIL, GAS, AND COAL THROUGH 2030 (NY TIMES)
The Green City On The Hill
If, like me, you’re settling into a long winter with no exciting travel (that doesn’t involve spending the holidays in my childhood bedroom), let your imagination do the walking with this new list of the world’s most sustainable cities. I’ll see you someday, Singapore!