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:
William Shatner appeared on Good Morning Britain to talk about climate change and urge King Charles to issue a life-or-death warning to leaders at COP28. According to Shatner, “He’s got to say ‘We’re all going to die’. That’s what he should say to open up with. ‘Very quickly, we’re all going to die,’ he should say.” A little bleaker than “to boldly go where no man has gone before,” but I like his sense of urgency.
GETTING DOWN TO CLIMATE BUSINESS:
🤑 The biggest climate news of the week is the revelation that COP28 hosts, the United Arab Emirates, planned to use their position at the conference to make secret oil and gas deals. Documents obtained by independent journalists revealed UAE talking points for over 15 countries to encourage expansion of oil and gas infrastructure and trade. They intended to pursue a liquid natural gas deal with China, get Brazilian support for a Saudi-owned oil and gas processing plant in Latin America, and, perhaps most cynically, tell oil-producing nations that “there is no conflict between the sustainable development of any country’s natural resources and its commitment to climate change.” Environmentalists warned from the beginning that holding COP28 in Dubai with the oversight of the Saudi royal family was a disaster waiting to happen. So when we’re huddling together in a community center during an unprecedented hurricane-heat wave-drought, I’m sure we’ll all be comforted by getting to say “Toldja so.”
💸 After that news broke, the UAE announced a $30 billion climate fund “aiming to divert private sector capital towards climate investments and improve financing for the Global South.” At first blush, this might sound pretty good – we’re nowhere near meeting our Loss & Damage obligations previously agreed on at COP27, so a big infusion of cash could go a long way. Unfortunately, this fund will ALSO be overseen by COP28 President Sultan al-Jaber. And considering the Saudi plan to get developing nations “hooked” on fossil fuels, this really feels like making Joe Camel the president of the American Lung Association.
🌏 Speaking of COP28, President Biden is expected to miss the climate summit, instead sending climate envoy John Kerry and White House National Climate Advisor Ali Zaidi. This has been frustrating for some climate activists, who see this as a sign that Biden isn’t taking his climate responsibilities seriously. Others, however, “have called into question the effectiveness of the annual international climate summit process.” Hard to argue with that position, given the first story I told you about!
🍅 A new startup called ClimateAi is trying to use AI to predict future climate challenges (which you could probably guess from the name). Apparently, “The tool uses data on the climate, water and soil of a particular location to measure how viable the landscape will be for growing in the coming years.” ClimateAi tools have already achieved some modest success in India, where its recommendations to tomato farmers resulted in a smoother transition to more resilient growing patterns. As a writer, I fully endorse this use of AI technology. I don’t want to watch a movie written by a robot, but I’ll eat a tomato that’s been enhanced by one!
🍅 When you’re a climate activist, it can be tough to know if anything you’re doing is having a meaningful impact. A new report from Nature offers a little insight into what actions are valuable, and in what ways. One specific benefit of climate action is that it can “set news agendas.” While very few protests are able to impact any specific policy, wide-scale or highly visible actions can get a lot of media coverage. In turn, this motivates more voters to care about environmental policy, which can motivate politicians to act. Conversely, the report says more research is needed to understand a recent surge in crackdowns against non-violent climate protests, as this repression does not seem to be related to public sentiment. Per Nature, “Researchers need to explore what is driving this policy trend, including the actors involved and the role of the fossil-fuel lobby.” Oh come on, it’s not like the fossil fuel lobby can just get governments to do whatever they want! … Right?
🌲 Let’s end with a little bit of good news: Thousands of young people have already expressed interest in the American Climate Corps, and the application just opened this week. The ACC is intended to be both a jobs program for young people and a sustainability initiative, and though it’s early, the results look promising. Turns out when they’re given the option, people would rather get paid to HELP the planet than destroy it. Who’da thought?!
$10.4M: FUNDING FOR CLIMATE ADAPTATIONS IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES FELL SHORT BY THIS MUCH IN 2021 (NPR)
800K: AMERICAN OIL PRODUCTION HAS INCREASED BY THIS MANY BARRELS PER DAY SINCE LAST YEAR (NYT)
If you can’t afford an energy-efficient heating system like a heat pump (or, like me, rent an apartment where you couldn’t install one anyway), you might be looking for more sustainable alternatives to staying warm in chilly temperatures. Fortunately, Lifehacker has a couple options for you. This wall-mounted heater saves space and is easy to install. Of course, another way to keep temperatures consistent in your home is by making sure warm air can’t leak out, and that’s where this infrared sensor comes in handy. Use it to find leaky spots, fill ’em in, and reap the toasty rewards.