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:

📸 Modern Environmentalism In The Wild: I see the world through an environmental lens, and I notice things that likely go unnoticed to most, but are consequential nonetheless. Things like when people of influence make the conscious choice to do the good environmental thing. Recent cases in point: NHL player, Brent Burns, doing his pregame walk in dapper style, while carrying a reusable coffee mug. Choice! And on a recent episode of Law & Order, both characters are also using reusable coffee mugs, whereas in most cop shows and otherwise, an underrated recurring character is the disposable cup. Choice! These positive choices above make me very happy indeed.


🚙 New Car Rule: The Biden Administration announced new tailpipe pollution limits for cars and light trucks, which will help reduce emissions from our country’s largest source – transportation. Remember, Biden pledged to cut total U.S. emissions by half by 2030, so this is a huge assist in nearing that goal. It’s important to note that this new tailpipe rule is not a ban on gas-guzzlers, as they could still be sold. Rather, it’s a regulation that allows car manufacturers to decide for themselves how they meet the emissions limits across their product lines, where by 2032, 56% of cars sold will likely be EVs in order to comply. Despite Trump’s current weaponization of EVs for political purposes, the auto industry has been and will continue to be a bright spot in the climate-friendly transition. We’ve watched carmakers compete, one-up each other, and go all-in on their EV plans. The foundational investments have been made. It’s been a beautiful example of how capitalism and government regulation can indeed work together for the greater good.

🚨 Red Alert: Lots of chatter this week about the alarming nature of just how hot the record-shattering 2023 was, and it’s not something to become jaded about. The head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies is calling for the scientific community to figure out why air and ocean temperatures were so unexplainably hot last year, beyond what was expected. He worries if they can’t find the explanations, it could be a sign that climate change has already begun to make systemic changes that could trigger tipping points. Please look at this chart that shows the anomaly in surface ocean temperatures, which for the past year broke records every single day – that’s 365 days of consecutive heat records in our one and only ocean. This story in The Atlantic dives deeper in the ocean warming crisis, and explains what it could mean. Finally, the UN’s World Meteorological Organization issued a “red alert” on climate change, due to the record heat, the record dumping of GHGs into Earth’s atmosphere, and the record glacial ice loss last year. Deep breath. This is the situation and we must keep fighting to reverse it.

🌷 Spring’s Been Here: The calendar marked the arrival of Spring this past week, but acknowledging the changing of the seasons is a personal affair. We all have our own memories and sensorial experiences attached to the seasons. Many are likely nature-related, like when you start seeing tulips bloom in sidewalk planters – a likely sign of Spring. I saw some new blooms just this past week, so maybe the calendar is right after all! Well, climate change is shifting nature’s signs of Spring to be earlier than they used to be. Take leaves sprouting on trees, for example. Using data from the USA National Phenology Network, the Washington Post put together a tool that can tell you how many days earlier leaves are sprouting in your town vs in 1981. In Brooklyn, it’s 14 days earlier.

🌌 Protecting The Night Sky: A 2.5M acre portion of Oregon has received designation as a ‘dark sky sanctuary’, and is now the world’s largest such site. This means that the area, known to have some of the darkest skies in the world, will be protected from light pollution, which disrupts both humans and wildlife. It’s a relief to know there are people out there thinking about all the ways we need to protect existence on this planet. I’m grateful for the years of work it took to attain this designation, and I will be adding this dark sky sanctuary to my travel list.

🇦🇺 Feelin’ Down Unda: Australia says it’s seeing a decline in corporate tourism. It’s an indication that as companies begin to account for their carbon emissions tied to business activities, they may actually change their behaviors. Apparently a once popular country for business conferences, Australia is now seen as a drain on the carbon emissions balance sheet, since it’s a long-haul flight, aka emissions-intensive, to get there from most places. Related, Aussie-based corporates, like management consultants, are pressuring Qantas, Australia’s biggest airline, to use ‘sustainable aviation fuels’ (SAF), which can reduce emissions by 80%. They too want to reduce the emissions burden of their travel to visit clients. The trouble is, these nascent fuels aren’t yet readily available and currently make up only 1% of airplane fuels. Luckily, corporate clients tend to spare no expense when traveling overseas – it’s called Business Class, afterall, so they’ll likely pay the premium on SAFs as the industry works to scale up.

💪 Big Bad Oil: Last week was CERAWeek, the annual energy and tech conference in Houston, where all the energy people – corporate and political – come together to discuss all things energy. Hot topics this year included AI’s impact on electricity demand, mining’s new role in the energy transition, the LNG pause, geopolitics concerning the ongoing conflicts, and the doling out of federal money from the U.S. climate law. You should know the quote heard ’round the climate world: “We should abandon the fantasy of phasing out oil and gas, and instead invest in them adequately “, this said by the CEO of Saudi Aramco, the world’s top oil producer. All the Big Oil CEOs shared a similar sentiment in their speeches, emphasizing a talking point of how the world must proceed slowly and cautiously (said no capitalist ever) towards any alternatives to fossil fuels, while instilling fear of energy insecurity and some vague crisis that lingers in a fossil-free world. Nope, the crisis is now, and the only way to reverse it is to stop burning fossil fuels. Buh-bye! ✈️

Some Stats:



Regenerative Cotton Jeans and The Ugly Story Behind The $9K Sweater

Buying things is a fairly surface level act. Sure, depending on the product, we may research more or less. But the research is likely focused on price, fit, dimensions, function, aesthetics, or reviews. It’s probably safe to say that the majority of shoppers don’t do a deep dive into the supply chain and material procurement behind a product they’re looking to buy. And even if they wanted to, that information would be extremely difficult to find, if it’s available at all. In fact, many companies themselves claim to not even know the original sources of materials in their products. This is absurd.

But we’re beginning to see some transparency in supply chains, both voluntarily and by exposé. I’ll go ahead and credit Everlane, a minimalist apparel brand, for leading the pack on this one – at least they brought transparency around cost and their factory partners to a version of the mainstream. Last week, I got an email from the jeans company Citizens of Humanity (COH) introducing their first season of jeans made from regenerative cotton, said to have a significantly lighter impact on the environment with the objective of improving soil conditions and land biodiversity, as compared to regular cotton farming. So far from what I can tell, the company seems to be seriously invested in this program, with checks and balances in place. And between COH and their sister brand AGOLDE, the products they label as ‘regenerative cotton’ are in fact made of 100% regen cotton or a combo of that and recycled materials. This is an important note, as many times I see companies touting a product’s recycled materials, only to read the fine print and discover that the recycled materials make up a mere percentage of the total, and otherwise the product is made from the regular bad stuff. For now, COH regen jeans look to be a better option when the time comes to shop intentionally for jeans.

In a fascinating story that Bloomberg reported earlier this month, we see how a corporation can bulldoze over the people and communities they rely on for the raw materials in their luxury goods. LVMH-owned brand Loro Piano sources the wool for its $9,000 sweater from a Peruvian village in the Andes. The village has 2,700 inhabitants and most are poor, living in mud huts. For the past 30 years, Loro Piano has been the sole buyer of this wool, sheared from vicuñas, which are the wild cousins of the domesticated alpaca, said to have the finest and most expensive wool in the world. Yet somehow the village is no better off and in fact, their work to shear these wild animals goes unpaid. Knowing this, I’m utterly disgusted at a brand that would charge that much for a sweater, and not give the most important link in their supply chain at the very least its fair share. The article is worth a read to learn about the storied past and present of the wild vicuñas and their intersection with culture, business, and politics.