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:
Demi Moore and her daughter, Rumer Willis, attended a special screening of the environmental documentary “Common Ground,” which explores the regenerative agriculture movement, at the Tribeca Film Festival.
GETTING DOWN TO CLIMATE BUSINESS:
Representatives from nearly 200 countries reached an agreement at the COP28 climate summit in Dubai to begin reducing global consumption of fossil fuels. COP28 President Sultan al-Jaber called the deal historic, emphasizing the need for tangible actions to implement the agreement. More than 100 countries pushed for strong language to “phase out” oil, gas, and coal use, which was sabotaged by the oil-producing group OPEC, led by Saudi Arabia. The deal calls for net-zero emissions by 2050 (which conveniently lets polluters keep emitting in the meantime), and has specific targets for renewable energy capacity, reducing coal use, and advancing technologies like carbon capture and storage. The consensus among many environmentalists is that this deal accomplishes very little. Critics argue that the deal includes half measures and loopholes, and the responsibility now lies with countries to implement national policies and investments to fulfill the agreement’s goals. COP28 ended not with a bang, or even a whimper, but just one big fart sound.
🔋 In response to Flop28— I mean COP28 — Massachussetts Senator Ed Markey has called on the United States to commit to its climate promises at a panel hosted by The Hill. Markey criticized the U.S. for its hypocrisy as a “climate leader” despite its continued reliance on oil and fossil fuels. He emphasized the need to align actions with stated climate goals. The panel discussed the challenges and opportunities related to climate mandates, energy efficiency, and the outcomes of COP28. The panel generally noted the difficulty of reaching bipartisan climate agreements and expressed disappointment at the weak outcome of COP28, but several expressed cautious optimism about the future of climate action. Senator Markey ended on a positive note, saying, “We’re heading towards an energy revolution.” Let’s just hope for everyone’s sake that the revolution is more Industrial, and less French.
🩺️ While it might seem obvious to describe the climate crisis as… well… a crisis, some experts now argue that framing isn’t the most helpful. In fact, using the word crisis can “fall flat” in contexts where people grapple with urgent issues like poverty, healthcare, and basic necessities. Instead, it can be helpful to frame climate change as “a chronic disease—the kind with flare-ups that slowly worsen with time and lack of treatment.” Effective communication would focus on treatment options that offer positive outcomes and co-benefits, addressing the practical concerns of vulnerable communities, and highlighting opportunities, not sacrifices. But unlike at the doctor’s office, that conversation doesn’t come with a $200 copay.
🐘 Young Republicans are increasingly concerned about climate change and are looking for conservative policies to address environmental issues. During a GOP debate, some candidates dismissed climate change concerns, while others, like businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, called it a hoax. Other GOP candidates, including Nikki Haley and Chris Christie, have moved away from outright climate change denial, advocating for conservative solutions such as carbon capture and supporting renewable energy. Despite this shift, these candidates face challenges within a party still largely resistant to environmental concerns, particularly under the influence of former President Donald Trump. Young Republicans have expressed the need for more discussion about climate change, emphasizing its importance for the party’s future engagement with voters. Yeah, turns out when your voters’ homes are underwater, it doesn’t help to say, “No they’re not.”
🔌 We talk a lot about tipping points in climate change, and now, researchers say that positive tipping points are a crucial mechanism for achieving necessary levels of decarbonization. The researchers, from the Global Systems Institute at the University of Exeter, emphasized that global warming is on track to breach 1.5°C, triggering multiple Earth system tipping points with severe consequences. Positive tipping points, on the other hand, are moments when beneficial changes rapidly gain momentum. The researchers highlighted the surge in electric vehicle sales in Scandinavia, particularly in Norway, as evidence of human systems exhibiting positive tipping points. Someone get Malcolm Gladwell on the phone, because The Tipping Point is back, baby.
🚆 The Biden administration is allocating $8.2 billion in funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to support 10 passenger rail projects, including the development of high-speed rail connections. These projects aim to enhance rail infrastructure, reduce carbon emissions, and provide an alternative to car and air travel. Experts and environmentalists suggest that expanding passenger rail could contribute to lowering carbon emissions by encouraging people to opt for train travel instead of cars or planes. While there are opportunities for rail growth in select locations, challenges such as the environmental review process, funding availability, and permitting delays need to be addressed. Despite these obstacles, the administration’s commitment to rail projects represents a significant step forward in promoting sustainable transportation and mitigating climate change. All aboard the sustainability train!
7%: THE MAJOR GAS LEAK FROM THE SABOTAGED NORD STREAM PIPELINE LAST YEAR PUSHED SWEDEN’S ANNUAL EMISSIONS UP BY THIS MUCH (CNN)
$1.75: THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION IS GIVING A TAX CREDIT OF THIS MUCH PER GALLON FOR SUSTAINABLE AVIATION FUELS (WAPO)
Accentuate The Positive
Here are nine positive breakthroughs for climate and nature that you might have missed in 2023, brought to you by the BBC.