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:
The new eco-terrorism thriller How To Blow Up A Pipeline is out in select theaters now! Based on the 2021 book by the same name, the film stars Lukas Gage, Ariela Barer, and Kristine Froseth. It’s already getting great reviews, and it doesn’t even have a Super Mario brother in it!
GETTING DOWN TO CLIMATE BUSINESS:
🇺🇸 A few weeks ago, I told you that congress voted to overturn water protections proposed by the Biden administration. Fortunately, this week, Joe Biden used his veto power for the second time in his presidency to block the attempt to redefine which waters are subject to federal protections. Realistically, it has no chance of achieving the two-thirds majority needed to overturn the veto, so for now, those waters are safe. That is, until our next train derailment. We’re about due for one, right?
🏘️️ Billionaire Tom Steyer’s investment firm Galvanize Climate Solutions announced plans to buy and upgrade residential properties in order to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Some details are still funny, but the focus will be on areas like the Pacific Northwest, Colorado, California, Arizona, and Texas, and buildings will be retrofitted to be more energy efficient and accommodate solar panels. According to Steyer, “We’re trying to show that doing this is a good investment from an absolute, straight up financial point of view.” I’ll be honest, I have some reservations about treating housing as a money-making investment for the very rich while most of America is already facing a housing crisis, but hey, if anyone can do it, I’m sure it’s the guy whose Presidential campaign spent $24 million in South Carolina to get less than 15% of the vote.
🗽 In a little bit of good news from New York, Governor Kathy Hochul has backpedalled her efforts to change the state’s 2019 Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, which would have weakened one of the nation’s strongest climate laws. The move came after two dozen professors sent a letter urging her not to make the proposed changes, which “included altering the time frame used to measure greenhouse gas emissions in a way that critics said would have benefited the energy industry.” However, the changes aren’t completely out of the picture yet. They were proposed as part of the state budget, and while they’ve been removed from budget negotiation, Hochul’s administration says they will continue to pursue those changes. Yeah fine, I’m sure your anti-climate legislation will be better-received this summer, when New York is 110 degrees and humid.
💰️ Clarence Thomas isn’t the only one this week with a conflict of interest: Harvard Environmental Law professor Jody Freeman facilitated a meeting between the SEC and ConocoPhillips, but she failed to mention to the SEC that she serves on the oil company’s board and receives an annual salary of $350,000. Apparently, “Failing to disclose her position at the company appears to breach university policy.” You’d think that an environmental law professor who works for ConocoPhillips would ALSO be a breach of university policy, but hey, what do I know? I’m just some idiot who didn’t go to Harvard.
⚖️ Some legal experts are arguing that we need to create “safe harbours” that will encourage global companies to team up to find climate solutions without fear of facing antitrust lawsuits. In a recent example, several insurance companies have left the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero, citing fear of antitrust risks. Call me a cynic, but I have my suspicions that these groups maybe wanted to walk back their commitment to net zero for financial reasons and fear of antitrust was a handy excuse. That being said, if we’re able to take that excuse away from them, it could still be worth looking into. Now we just need to create antitrust protections that carve out climate collaboration while still providing monopoly protections to consumers. Sounds easy!
🌽 The global food system makes up a third of greenhouse gas emissions every year, and any move towards sustainability will require rethinking and re-incentivizing huge parts of how we grow, transport, and consume food. Frequent readers of this newsletter know I’ve been harping on the Farm Bill lately, since it’s being renegotiated in congress right now (call your reps!). But there are other pieces of legislation having a positive impact, like the Food Donation Improvement Act, which addresses “the gross contradiction between food excess and food scarcity in America.” However, this act is too incremental, and we need major action on food systems across the globe. It’s time for us to bite off as much as we can chew.
10,000: OVER THIS MANY FOREIGN COMPANIES WILL BE HIT BY THE E.U.’S NEW SUSTAINABILITY RULES (WSJ)
15%: CLIMATE CHANGE HAS INCREASED WIND SHEAR IN THE JET STREAM BY THIS MUCH, INCREASING TURBULENCE (NPR)
Stick A Fork In It
New Jersey is set to ban plastic utensils for takeout customers (which is great, since every time I select “no utensils,” restaurants seem to throw them in anyway). Whether you live in New Jersey or you’d just like to stop throwing away single-use utensils every time you want a burrito bowl, I recommend keeping one of these bad boys in your backpack or purse. Of course, if you’re a no-bag kinda person you could also stick this in your wallet, but honestly buying a backpack just for your fork seems more convenient than eating with one of these things.