Want to offset your carbon footprint? Here’s what you need to know

Want to offset your carbon footprint? Here’s what you need to know

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty Images)

In the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church offered indulgences, letting people exchange donations for slips of paper that promised reduced time in purgatory after their death. Less controversially, today someone who over-indulges in the office tea supply might feel obliged to pay for a replacement box. Do carbon offsets more closely resemble the former or the latter?

There are many reasons why you might seek to offset part of your carbon footprint, whether it’s to assuage a general feeling of guilt for your lifestyle, to precisely cover the estimated emissions of a flight, or just to do something beneficial for the environment. Regardless of motivation, all these efforts are predicated on the belief that the money you paid truly will result in the removal of the promised amount of CO2 from the atmosphere. Otherwise, you’re paying for a lie—or at least getting a smaller box of tea than you ordered.

Finding out whether you’ve been lied to is genuinely difficult. Here’s what you need to know.

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#carbon-offset, #climate-change, #features, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #negative-emissions, #science

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Investors including Microsoft’s climate fund back hyperlocal environmental monitoring tech developer Aclima

Mitigating the effects of climate change and pollution is a global problem, but it’s one that requires local solutions.

While that seems like common sense, most communities around the world don’t have tools that can monitor emissions and pollutants at the granular levels they need to develop plans that can address these pollutants.

Aclima, a decade-old startup founded by Davida Herzl, is looking to solve that problem and has raised $40 million in new funding from strategic and institutional venture capital investors to accelerate its growth.

“We’ve built a platform that enables hyperlocal measurement. We measure all the greenhouse gases as well as regulated air pollutants. We deploy sensor networks that combine mobile sensing where we use fleets of vehicles as a roving network. And we bring that all together and bring that into a back end,” Herzl said. 

The networks of air quality monitoring technology that exists — and is subsidized by the government — is costly and lacking in the kinds of minute details on a neighborhood by neighborhood basis that communities can use to effectively address pollution problems.

“A typical air quality monitoring station would cost somewhere between $1 million to $2 million. Here in the Bay Area, the regulator is paying less than $3 million for access to all of this for the entire Bay Area,” Herzl said. 

Aclima’s technologies are already being deployed across California, and some of the company’s largest customers are municipalities in the Bay Area and down south in San Diego. 

GettyImages 1155300963

Image Credits: Getty Images under a license.

The company has two main offerings: an enterprise professional software product that’s geared toward regulators, experts, and businesses that want to get a handle on their greenhouse gas emissions and environmentally polluting operations and a free tool that’s available to the public.

A third revenue stream is through partnerships with companies like Google, which have attached Aclima’s sensors to its roving mapping vehicles to capture climate and environmental quality data alongside geographic information.

“You’re seeing a lot of large companies in traditionally who are now investing significant amount into really trying to understand their emissions profile and prioritize emission reductions in a data driven way,” Herzl said.

The company’s data is also providing real world tools to communities that are looking to address systemic inequalities in locations that have been hardest hit by industrial pollution.

West Oakland, for instance, has used Aclima’s data to develop community intervention plans to reduce pollution in the communities that have been most impacted by the regions industrial economy.

“The interconnected crises of climate change, public health and environmental justice urgently require lasting solutions,” said Herzl, in a statement. “Measurement will play a key role in shaping solutions and tracking progress. With this coalition of investors, we’re expanding our capacity to support new and existing customers and partners taking bold climate action.”

As a result of the new round of funding, led by Clearvision Ventures, the fund’s founder and managing partner, Dan Ahn will take a seat on the board of directors.

Photo: Greg Epperson/Getty Images

“They are the clear category leader in an important and emerging field of data and standards at the intersection of climate, public health and the economy,” Ahn said in a statement. “Both governments and industry will need Aclima’s critical data and analytics to benchmark and accelerate progress to reduce emissions.”

Other investors in Aclima’s latest round include the corporate investment arm of the sensor manufacturer Robert Bosch, which views the company as a strategic component of its efforts to use sensor data to combat climate change. 

“Aclima has built an expansive mobile and stationary sensor network that generates billions of measurements about our most critical resources every week,” says Dr. Ingo Ramesohl, Managing Director of RBVC, in a statement. “Bosch invents and delivers connected solutions for a smarter future across transportation, home, industrial, and many other fields. What Aclima has achieved in connected environmental sensing is an impressive feat. Together, we can accelerate Aclima’s ability to support customers in taking decisive and data-driven climate action.”

Another key investor is Microsoft, which has backed the company through one of the first direct investments from the Microsoft Climate Innovation Fund. 

“We established our Climate Innovation Fund earlier this year to accelerate the development of environmental sustainability solutions based on the best available science,” said Brandon Middaugh, Director, Climate Innovation Fund, Microsoft, in a statement. “We’re encouraged by Aclima’s pioneering approach to mapping air pollution sources and exposures at a hyperlocal level and the implications this technology can have for making data-driven environmental decisions with consideration for climate equity.”

Other investors also adding Aclima to their portfolios in this round include Splunk Inc. GingerBread Capital, KTB Network, ACVC Partners, and the Womens VC Fund II. Existing shareholders participating in the round include Social Capital, Rethink Impact, Kapor Capital, and the Schmidt Family Foundation, the company said in a statement.

 

#aclima, #articles, #bosch, #brandon-middaugh, #california, #climate-change, #davida-herzl, #director, #google, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #kapor-capital, #managing-partner, #oakland, #pollution, #san-diego, #schmidt-family-foundation, #social-capital, #soil, #tc

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Newest climate models shouldn’t raise future warming projections

Newest climate models shouldn’t raise future warming projections

Enlarge (credit: Brunner et al./ESD)

One notable storyline in the climate system over the past year or two has been the effort to make sense of the latest generation of climate models. In service of the next Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, the world’s climate models have submitted their simulations to the latest database, known as CMIP6. These submissions showed that updates to a number of models had made them more sensitive to greenhouse gases, which means they project greater amounts of future warming.

Apart from diagnosing the behavior responsible for that change, climate scientists have also wrestled with the implications. Should we be alarmed by the results, or are they outliers? Climate models are only one tool among many for estimating Earth’s true “climate sensitivity,” so their behavior has to be considered in the full context of all the other evidence.

For a number of reasons, research is converging on the idea that the high temperature projections are outliers; these hotter models seem to be too hot. That will present a challenge for the scientists working on the next IPCC report: how much influence should these outliers have on projections of future warming?

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#climate-change, #climate-models, #earth-science, #science

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US left the Paris Agreement Wednesday—here’s how it could get back in

A photograph of the Eiffel Tower.

Enlarge (credit: Gary Campbell-Hall / Flickr)

Midway through 2017, President Donald Trump announced that the United States intended to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, an international accord to address climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. But the structure of the Paris Agreement meant that the withdrawal couldn’t take place until late 2020. On Wednesday, the US officially exited the agreement, abandoning its pledges.

President Trump’s stated reason for withdrawing—he claimed it was too expensive and unfair to the United States—didn’t really jibe with the design of the agreement, which was based on voluntary pledges that could be updated over time. (He also exaggerated the agreement’s costs and downplayed its benefits.) Of course, he has repeatedly dismissed the science of climate change, which certainly influenced his decision.

But is this the end of US involvement in the Paris Agreement? That still depends entirely on the outcome of the election. But rejoining the agreement is much easier than quitting it.

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#climate-change, #paris-agreement, #science

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Stripe Climate is a new tool to let Stripe customers purchase credits towards carbon removal efforts

Last year, payments giant Stripe announced that it would donate $1 million of its own funds annually into companies that are building technology to remove carbon from our environment, with the recipients of that investment announced in May of this year. Now, it’s expanding that commitment with a new product aimed at getting its customers to invest, too.

Today, the company is launching Stripe Climate, a new tool that companies using Stripe can integrate to set up automatic contributions that are made as a percentage of each transaction — the company can set the percentage itself — with the proceeds feeding into an add-on pot on top of Stripe’s own investments in carbon reduction companies.

Currently there are four companies on that investment list: CarbonCure (which collects carbon dioxide and recycles it for other purposes, among other things); Climeworks, which is building carbon removal plants; Project Vesta, which has worked on projects like “green sand” to remove carbon on beaches; and Charm Industrial (converting waste biomass to bio-oil). It’s likely there will be more added to the list over time. And for now, companies don’t get a chance to choose how their contributions get invested: they basically mirror and follow the path of those being made by Stripe itself.

Stripe Climate is free to use, and Stripe said that the 25 companies testing out the service in a closed beta — the list includes Flexport, Substack, Flipcause, and OpenSnow — have already contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the effort.

“We built Substack because, while it’s easy to be depressed about the current state of the media business, we think there’s tremendous opportunity for those daring enough to be optimistic. We feel the same way about climate change,” said Chris Best, Co-Founder and CEO of Substack, in a statement. “We’re done with defaulting to depression. We want to help show the way to a better future—and better yet, we want to give all Substack writers the opportunity to join us. Stripe’s climate initiative is a gift because it removes all barriers to positive action. This program makes it easy, and valuable, to do the right thing. We’re proud to be part of it.”

Stripe Climate is playing on some important themes at the company.

Stripe — now valued at $36 billion — has made a name for itself primarily through a simple payments service that site and app developers can integrate by way of APIs, using a few lines of code. That has helped the company grow fast and pick up a huge number of users, from sole-trader outfits to much bigger businesses.

The company is using the same low-friction principle here with Stripe Climate: the idea is that while companies and individuals might in theory be committed to making investments in environmental causes, many don’t know where to begin, or how to do it in an efficient way. This gives them that way, having it integrated as part of its existing payments flow.

“A lot of the social issues dealing with right now are collective action problems,” said Nan Ransohoff, Stripe’s head of climate, in an interview. “Climate change is a collective action problem. Coordinating can be complicated and expensive. So can we make it easy to bring Stripe businesses together to make the whole bigger than the sum of its parts? If we can do it even a little bit we as a planet we will be in a better place.”

The second theme of this is how it fits into what Stripe is building on a more strategic level. Basic payments may be the company’s bread and butter, but on top of that it’s been adding a host of other services for businesses, from tools to help them incorporate their operations in the US, through to fraud prevention and analytics, and money advances and credit based on their existing activity on the platform. And the other week it also made its largest ever acquisition, buying a startup called Paystack in Nigeria, to enter more comprehensively into new geographies like Africa.

The idea is not just to make more money from their customers through value-added services, but to increase stickiness with customers, who might be less reluctant to switch out a simple API if that data is also integrated into a number of other parts of their business and how they operate.

Stripe Climate isn’t going to make Stripe or its customers any money — in fact, it’s a way for its customers to give money away — but it’s a very strong goodwill gesture that could go some way to building more loyalty and regard with its customers.

Ransohoff said that the plan will also be to expand Stripe Climate into a tool that these companies can also in turn offer to their own customers at checkout — not unlike the many offers you might already see these days to contribute money towards good causes when you are hitting “buy now” on any number of sites.

#climate, #climate-change, #ecommerce, #environment, #greentech, #stripe, #tc

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California bans new internal combustion engines, starting in 2035

The words Mad Gas 2035 are printed in a Mad Max Fury Road typeface.

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty Images)

On Wednesday, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order requiring that all new passenger cars and trucks sold in the state from 2035 be zero-emissions vehicles. Additionally, all drayage trucks—the ones that move containers around at places like the Port of Los Angeles—must also go emissions free by this date, as well as off-road vehicles and equipment. Medium- and heavy-duty vehicles get an extra decade to comply, but by 2045 these too must ditch internal combustion engines.

Although this is the first such ICE ban in the United States, Governor Newsom is following in the footsteps of policymakers in Europe, China, and elsewhere. In 2016, Paris, Madrid, Athens, and Mexico City announced bans on new diesel vehicles from 2025. The same year, Germany’s Bundesrat voted to outlaw new ICE vehicles from 2030, although this was not a binding resolution.

The following year, France announced that new ICE vehicles would be banned from 2040. The UK also picked 2040 as the end of new gasoline and diesel vehicles within its borders, a timeline that in February was brought forward by five years to 2035, then this past Monday it was brought forward another five years, to 2030. And China is also phasing out internal combustion vehicles, albeit over a longer timeline.

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#california, #california-air-resources-board, #cars, #climate-change, #diesel, #gasoline, #policy, #zero-emissions-vehicle

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What’s in wildfire smoke, and how dangerous is it?

Juniper Hills, CA, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020 - A fire engine drives into air thick with smoke along Juniper Hills Rd. as the Bobcat Fire advances North into the Antelope Valley.

Enlarge / Juniper Hills, CA, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020 – A fire engine drives into air thick with smoke along Juniper Hills Rd. as the Bobcat Fire advances North into the Antelope Valley. (credit: Robert Gauthier | Getty Images)

The West Coast’s wildfire crisis is no longer just the West Coast’s wildfire crisis: As massive blazes continue to burn across California, Oregon, and Washington, they’re spewing smoke high into the atmosphere. Winds pick the haze up and transport it clear across the country, tainting the skies above the East Coast.

But what are you breathing, exactly, when these forests combust and waft smoke near and far? Charred trees and shrubs, of course, but also the synthetic materials from homes and other structures lost in the blazes. Along with a variety of gases, these give off tiny particles, known as PM 2.5 (particulate matter 2.5 microns or smaller), that weasel their way deep into human lungs. All told, the mixture of solids and gases actually transforms chemically as it crosses the country, creating different consequences for the health of humans thousands of miles apart. In other words, what you breathe in, and how hazardous it remains, may depend on how far you live from the Pacific coast.

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#anthropogenic-climate-change, #climate-change, #science, #wildfires

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Former Tesla CTO wins Amazon funding for battery recycling project

Empty phone batteries are sorted by the company Accurec Recycling GmbH.

Enlarge / Empty phone batteries are sorted by the company Accurec Recycling GmbH. (credit: Ina Fassbender | Getty Images)

Tesla cofounder JB Straubel has been funded by Amazon for Redwood Materials, a start-up aiming to extract lithium, cobalt and nickel from old smartphones and other electronics for reuse in new electric batteries.

Redwood is one of five companies Amazon is investing in as part of its $2 billion Climate Pledge Fund, announced this year.

Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s chief executive, said in a statement that this first batch of companies were “channelling their entrepreneurial energy into helping Amazon and other companies reach net zero by 2040 and keep the planet safer for future generations.”

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#amazon, #batteries, #cars, #climate-change, #policy, #recycling, #science

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Facebook’s latest hollow effort to fight climate change denial

This is fine.

Enlarge / This is fine. (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty Images)

Facebook this week implemented yet another new initiative meant to combat rampant, dangerous disinformation on the platform—this time, relating to the climate crisis. Unfortunately this initiative, like countless others before it, seems likely to generate positive headlines for about a week before disappearing unremarked into obscurity, solving exactly zero of Facebook’s deeper problems along the way.

“One of the biggest lessons we have learned from the COVID-19 pandemic is how powerful Facebook can be for connecting people to accurate, expert advice and information during a global crisis,” Facebook wrote in a corporate blog post. To that end, Facebook is launching a new “Climate Change Information Center” module and landing page that will, in theory, connect users to up-to-date, fact-based information grounded in reality.

Users in the US and a small handful of other countries may already have seen a notification about the new climate information center appear in their newsfeeds this week, either on desktop or on mobile. The green box implores you by name to “see how our climate is changing.”

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#climate-change, #climate-crisis, #facebook, #policy, #pr-stunts

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Facebook launches a climate change information center and commits to eliminating ‘scope 3’ emissions by 2030

Even as Facebook, the world’s largest social media platform, admits that climate change “is real” and that “the science is unambiguous and the need to act grows more urgent by the day” the platform appears unwilling to take steps to really stand up to the climate change denialism that circulates on its platform. 

The company is set to achieve net zero carbon emissions and be supported fully by renewable energy in its own operations this year.

But as the corporate world slaps a fresh coat of green paint on its business practices, Facebook is looking to get out in front with the launch of a Climate Science Information Center to “connect people with science-based information”.

The company is announcing a new information center, designed after its COVID-19 pandemic response. The center is designed to connect people to factual and up-to-date climate information, according to the company. So far, Facebook says that over 2 billion people have been directed to resources from health authorities with its COVID-19 response.

The company said that it will use The Climate Science Information Center to feature facts, figures, and data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and their global network of climate science partners, including the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and others. This center is launching in France, Germany, the UK and the US to start. 

While Facebook has been relatively diligent in taking down COVID-19 misinformation that circulates on the platform, removing 7 million posts and labeling another 98 million more for distributing coronavirus misinformation, the company has been accused of being far more sanguine when it comes to climate change propaganda and pseudoscience.

A July article from The New York Times revealed how climate change deniers use the editorial label to skirt Facebook’s policies around climate disinformation. In September 2019 a group called the CO2 Coalition managed to overturn a fact-check that would have labeled a post as misinformation by appealing to Facebook’s often criticized stance on providing and amplifying different opinions. By calling an editorial that contained blatant misinformation on climate science an editorial, the group was able to avoid the types of labels that would have redirected a Facebook user to information from recognized scientific organizations.  

Facebook disputes that characterization. “If it’s labeled an opinion piece, it’s subject to fact checking,” said Chris Cox, the chief product officer at Facebook.

“We look at the stuff that starts to go viral. There’s not a part of our policies that says anything about opinion pieces being exempted at all.”

With much of the Western coast of the United States now on fire, the issues are no longer academic. “We are taking important steps to reduce our emissions and arm our global community with science-based information to make informed decisions and tools to take action, and we hope they demonstrate that Facebook is committed to playing its part and helping to inspire real action in our community,” the company said in a statement.

Beyond its own operations, the company is also pushing to reduce operational greenhouse gases in its secondary supply chain by 75 percent and intends to reach net zero emissions for its value chain — including suppliers and employee commuting and business travel — by 2030, the company said. Facebook did not disclose how much money it would be investing to support that initiative.

#articles, #business-travel, #chris-cox, #climate-change, #facebook, #france, #germany, #national-oceanic-and-atmospheric-administration, #renewable-energy, #social-media, #tc, #the-new-york-times, #united-kingdom, #united-states

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As waters warm, these species are stuck going the wrong way

These clams are fighting an uphill battle.

Enlarge / These clams are fighting an uphill battle. (credit: Kyle Hartshorn)

As the world warms and climate zones shift, species that are able may alter their range to try to keep themselves at a comfortable temperature. Although the oceans are generally warming more slowly than the land, migrations of marine species are well documented already. For organisms like fish, mobile adults can dynamically track suitable conditions. But many seafloor-dwelling critters primarily move in their wandering youth—as larvae that (mostly) passively ride the currents. Changing your destination isn’t so easy when you’re not in the driver’s seat.

Unfortunately, some of those species have been seen migrating the wrong way, toward even higher-temperature waters rather than away from them. We’ve seen this happen in the coastal northwest Atlantic, including in some commercially harvested species like clams. Seeing these species shift requires something unusual, since they’re adapted to their current-catching lifestyle. So what gives?

A team led by Heidi Fuchs at Rutgers University wanted to test the hypothesis that earlier spring warmth could explain things. These organisms take their spawning cue from warm temperatures, so long-term warming can push that springtime cue earlier and earlier. If the currents are different in early spring, that could lead to larvae drifting toward new locations simply because they’re ahead of schedule.

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#biodiversity, #climate-change, #science

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Climate change may wreck economy unless we act soon, federal report warns

A deep orange sky covers an automobile bridge across a lake.

Enlarge / A boat motors by as the Bidwell Bar Bridge is surrounded by fire in Lake Oroville during the Bear fire in Oroville, California, on September 9, 2020. (credit: Josh Edelson | AFP | Getty Images)

The ever-worsening climate crisis is already causing waves of human suffering—both internationally and here in the United States. And now, a new report from a US financial regulator finds that climate change is also poised to do major damage to some of the institutions with the most power to help mitigate it: Wall Street banks and investors.

Climate change “poses a major risk to the stability of the US financial system and to its ability to sustain the American economy,” the report (196-page PDF) from the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) begins. Regulators “must recognize that climate change poses serious emerging risks to the US financial system, and they should move urgently and decisively to measure, understand, and address these risks.”

The report, called “Managing Climate Risk in the US Financial System,” was written by a group of 35 advisors from major banks such as Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase, environmental groups such as The Nature Conservancy and Ceres, energy firms such as BP and ConocoPhillips, several investment firms, and experts from several universities. It is the first analysis of climate change to come from a US financial regulator looking specifically at how change, already underway, will affect trading of agricultural commodities and futures, the real estate and insurance markets, and all the complex financial instruments that are built on multiple industries taken together.

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#climate-change, #climate-crisis, #energy, #finance, #policy, #social-costs, #sustainability, #wall-street

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A California wildfire nearly destroyed the historic Lick observatory

Lick Observatory

Enlarge / Lick Observatory (credit: Bill Dally | Getty Images)

On the morning of Sunday, August 16, freak summer thunderstorms rolled into the Bay Area, peppering the ultra-dry landscape with lightning, setting nearly 400 fires across Northern California. Ten miles to the north of the historic Lick Observatory, atop Mount Hamilton near San Jose, one such blaze was closing in, and fast: By Tuesday morning, the flames were 6 miles away. That night, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire, made the call to evacuate the facility’s 30-odd residents and staff members, save for the superintendent, Kostas Chloros, who’d stay on to coordinate the defense of one of the world’s most cherished observatories.

It was here that in 1969 astronomers made the first laser lunar ranging, calculating the precise distance to the moon. The observatory has helped scientists explore the structure of the universe, finding the masses of nearby galaxies, as well as black holes and quasars. Its Automated Planet Finder robotic telescope has been instrumental—literally and figuratively—in sniffing out the exoplanets that orbit distant stars.

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#astronomy, #california, #climate-change, #science, #wildfire

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In face of federal inaction, California gets five automakers to cut CO2

Cars congest I-10 in Los Angeles late October 2006. That year, the state sued several US and Japanese automakers for their alleged contribution to global warming.

Enlarge / Cars congest I-10 in Los Angeles late October 2006. That year, the state sued several US and Japanese automakers for their alleged contribution to global warming. (credit: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP via Getty Images)

On Tuesday, five automakers signed agreements with California’s Air Resources Board to implement cleaner emissions standards over the next few years. BMW, Ford, Honda, Volkswagen Group, and Volvo will reduce vehicle emissions between model years 2021 and 2026.

Unlike Europe’s rules, which fine automakers if they exceed a blanket fleet average for the amount of CO2 emitted per km, CARB has different targets for cars and light trucks based on their relative footprint. But each of the five OEMs has agreed to cut the amount of CO2 its vehicles produce per mile by about 17 percent by MY2026. The new agreement is broadly similar to one announced last year, although with a revised timeline that now runs through 2026.

Specifically, CO2 emissions from small cars would drop from 157g/mile in 2021 to 130g/mile in 2026, large cars from 215g/mile to 178g/mile, small light trucks from 195g/mile to 162g/mile, and large light trucks from 335g/mile to 278g/mile, with a formula to adjust vehicles that fall in between the small and large footprint areas. For context, the EU’s new fleet-wide average, which came into effect in 2020, heavily fines any automaker whose fleet average exceeds 152g/mile (95g/km).

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#air-pollution, #bmw, #california-air-resources-board, #carb, #carbon-dioxide, #cars, #climate-change, #co2-emissions, #ford, #honda, #volkswagen-group, #volvo

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Trump admin. finally kills off Obama-era rule limiting methane emissions

A natural gas flare from an offshore oil drilling rig in Cook Inlet, Alaska.

Enlarge / A natural gas flare from an offshore oil drilling rig in Cook Inlet, Alaska. (credit: Paul Souders | Getty Images)

The Environmental Protection Agency this week finalized a rule that kills off Obama-era limitations on how much methane, a potent greenhouse gas, oil and natural gas producers are allowed to emit into the atmosphere—even though industry leaders didn’t want the changes.

The changes to the rules, known as the New Source Performance Standards (NSPS), remove some segments of the industry from being covered under the existing standards at all, and these changes also lift the methane caps on other segments, the EPA announced on Thursday.

The oil and gas industry basically splits into three big buckets of activity: upstream, meaning the actual drilling for oil or gas; midstream, which is the world of storage and pipelines; and downstream, that last mile where products are refined and sold. The current changes apply to the downstream and midstream segments, as the EPA broke down in a graphic (PDF).

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#climate-change, #climate-crisis, #emissions, #energy, #environmental-protection-agency, #epa, #methane, #methane-emissions, #policy, #science

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Climate: The science may be settled, but the press coverage isn’t

A climate activist wearing a mask of US President Donald Trump hands out leaflets at a protest action during the eleventh day of demonstrations by the climate change action group Extinction Rebellion, at Gatwick Airport, in Crawley, south of London on October 17, 2019. Activists from the environmental campaign group Extinction Rebellion have vowed to challenge a blanket protest ban imposed by the London police. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP) (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)

Enlarge / A climate activist wearing a mask of US President Donald Trump hands out leaflets at a protest action during the eleventh day of demonstrations by the climate change action group Extinction Rebellion, at Gatwick Airport, in Crawley, south of London on October 17, 2019. Activists from the environmental campaign group Extinction Rebellion have vowed to challenge a blanket protest ban imposed by the London police. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP) (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images) (credit: Glyn Kirk | Getty Images)

Lots of the mainstream press has struggled with a desire to maintain what they think is objectivity in the face of scientific evidence. On matters like evolution and climate change, major outlets have instead tried to present balance between two opposing sides. But this was so obviously problematic that John Oliver made fun of it, so we must be doing better now, right?

Maybe not. New research from Brown University’s Rachel Wetts suggests that major newspapers are still more likely to feature the views of business interests and still overrepresent people who don’t seem to accept the reality of climate change.

Bad PR

How do you measure who has the most influence on press coverage? There’s a whole industry devoted to exercising that influence: public relations. Among the other things they do, PR people put together press releases designed to attract attention (as their name implies) from the press. So, Wetts simply obtained about 1,800 press releases from a mix of organizations: businesses and trade groups, the government, and public interest groups.

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#climate-change, #news, #press, #science

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How to change US housing to hit Paris Agreement goals

How to change US housing to hit Paris Agreement goals

Enlarge (credit: US DOE)

So far, the focus on cutting the US’s carbon emissions has fallen on two obvious targets: electrical production and transportation. But to engage in the sort of deep decarbonization we’ll need to address climate change, we can’t really ignore any significant source of emissions. And the places we live are significant sources—even before the pandemic kept many of us from leaving the house, US households accounted for about 20 percent of the country’s energy-related carbon emissions.

On its own, the authors of a new analysis say, US housing would be the world’s sixth largest emitter of greenhouse gases, placing it ahead of Germany. How do we get that down in order to address climate change? To find out, some researchers from the University of Michigan did an incredibly detailed analysis of the US’s housing stock, figuring out the factors that influenced its carbon emissions. They then calculated which options might bring those emissions down to where they’d be compatible with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.

Emissions at home

To understand US housing’s energy use, the researchers started with average samples of the housing in each state, with the number of buildings ranging from 100,000 to 10 million. This data included information on the building’s age, how much space it enclosed, how it’s heated, and so on. Their model also incorporated details of things like power use, housing density, details of the electric grid, and so on.

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#carbon-emissions, #climate-change, #energy, #green, #housing, #science

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Huge climate-sensitivity study shrinks uncertainty on critical number

Huge climate-sensitivity study shrinks uncertainty on critical number

Enlarge (credit: Dan)

One of the most important numbers in climate science is 3°C. This isn’t about a projection of future warming or the impacts that come with it, though. It’s about how much warming you get if you double the amount of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. That value can be made more general as a metric known as “climate sensitivity,” which describes how much warming you get for a given amount of emissions. If the number is small, we can burn a lot of fossil fuels with minimal consequences. If the number is extremely high, emissions are extraordinarily dangerous.

This number is commonly defined against a doubling of the concentration of CO2 in the air, in part because CO2’s effect is logarithmic and each doubling is roughly equivalent. Calculations of this value go back to the turn of the 20th century, when the Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius came up with numbers in the 4-6°C range. But a major milestone was reached in 1979, when a group of scientists released a climate report that included this value. The scientists wrote, “We estimate the most probable global warming for a doubling of CO2 to be near 3°C with a probable error of ±1.5°C.”

Despite all the scientific progress since then, that answer (1.5-4.5°C) has held up. The 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report tightened it up a bit to 2.0-4.5°C, but then a handful of studies released just before their 2013 report caused confusion that led to a return to the old 1.5-4.5°C range.

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#climate-change, #climate-sensitivity, #science

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Facebook overrides fact-checks when climate science is “opinion”

Photograph of busy open-plan office.

Enlarge / Facebook’s election “War Room” on Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018. (credit: David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images)

Facebook has touted its fact-checking process as one of the ways it intends to fight rampant disinformation heading into the 2020 US presidential election. New reports about the way the site handles the fact-checking of climate science stories, though, make clear that fact-checking can only work as well as Facebook allows it to—and that the months from now to November are going to be a slog.

Facebook does not employ fact-checkers directly but rather works with a range of third-party organizations to rate how true or false content shared in categories is. The efforts are not universal, however. While Facebook has heavily invested in efforts to stem the overwhelming tide of false and misleading COVID-19 information, for example, it does not heavily fact-check information related to climate change.

The New York Times recently explained the platform’s reasoning behind how it handles climate change. Facebook considers opinion content largely exempt from review—and climate change can, as far as Facebook’s rules are concerned, be a matter of opinion.

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#biz-it, #climate-change, #disinformation, #facebook, #fact-checking, #facts, #misinformation, #policy

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Siberia’s hot 2020 “effectively impossible” without global warming

Heat map of the Arctic Circle.

Enlarge / Average temperatures from March 19 to June 20. (credit: NASA/EO)

Generally speaking, 2020 has been a hell of a year. But in Siberia, there is an additional reason to make comparisons to the inferno: record-breaking warmth and its consequences. Wildfires have burned about 8,000 square miles, aided by a bumper crop of silk moths consuming the needles off conifers. And slumping permafrost also contributed to a massive diesel spill when a tank on unstable ground burst.

The immediate cause of this extreme year was last winter’s jet stream pattern, which kept Siberia mild from later winter into spring, melting ice and snow early and boosting the warmth further. Then in June, a stubborn high pressure set up, as a northward wiggle of the jet stream brought warmer air from the south into Siberia. It was during this heatwave that the Russian town of Verkhoyansk apparently hit 38°C (100°F)—a first for any station above the Arctic Circle.

As with many extreme weather events in recent years, a team of scientists has completed a rapid analysis of the role of climate change in all this. The scientists analyzed both that record high temperature and the warm January-to-June across the region, concluding “in both cases that this event would have effectively been impossible without human-induced climate change.”

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#climate-change, #extreme-weather, #science, #weather-attribution

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Climate laws correlate with lower emissions per GDP

Image of an offshore wind installation.

Enlarge (credit: Deepwater Wind)

Up until recently, the cost of renewable power generation has been higher than that of traditional fossil fuel plants. As a result, much of the initial growth of renewable energy has been driven by policy: laws that limit emissions, set renewable energy standards, or subsidize the use of low-emissions power sources. And that period of growth occurred at a time where global emissions were still rising dramatically, raising questions about whether the policies were having significant effects.

A pair of UK-based researchers, Shaikh Eskander and Sam Fankhauser, have attempted to find out. The two use a comprehensive database of existing climate laws to try to compare the presence of climate-friendly policies to outcomes. While their approach has some significant limitations, they find a correlation between measures of lowered emissions and the passage of laws meant to address climate change. If the correlation they detect reflects actual causality, the result implies that legislation is now dropping global emissions by the equivalent of the US’ output.

Follow the law

For the new work, Eskander and Fankhauser rely on a comprehensive database called Climate Change Laws of the World. This allowed them to track both laws and executive orders directed toward addressing climate change in 133 countries, as well as the European Union as a whole. After eliminating the ones directed toward adapting to the changing climate, they were left with about 1,100 relevant laws, enacted over the period of 1999 to 2016.

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#climate-change, #climate-policy, #science

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Jail time for polluters in Biden’s $2T climate plan

Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden arrives to speak at a "Build Back Better" Clean Energy event on July 14, 2020 at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware.

Enlarge / Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden arrives to speak at a “Build Back Better” Clean Energy event on July 14, 2020 at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware. (credit: Olivier Douliery | AFP | Getty Images)

Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden today unveiled a $2 trillion policy platform that seeks to address both the climate crisis and the worsening pandemic-driven economic crisis by drastically expanding investments in infrastructure improvements and clean energy.

The proposals in the Biden plan are in line with a policy package released earlier this month by the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. The House Democrats’ plan (a 550-page PDF), at a very high level, calls first for bringing the United States to net-zero emissions by 2050, then for using the back half of the century to get to negative emissions. That ambitious goal would be reached by adopting new regulations and incentives in energy, transportation, housing, construction, manufacturing, agriculture, telecommunications, and infrastructure, among other sectors.

Biden’s plans, as outlined on his campaign website, go much less in-depth than the Congressional proposal package but are perhaps even more aggressive.

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#climate-change, #climate-crisis, #coronavirus, #covid-19, #economy, #energy, #environmental-justice, #policy

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Sweeping climate-crisis plan would bring US to zero emissions in 30 years

 U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse (D-CO), joined by members of the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, delivers remarks during a news conference outside the U.S. Capitol on June 30, 2020 in Washington, DC.

Enlarge / U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse (D-CO), joined by members of the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, delivers remarks during a news conference outside the U.S. Capitol on June 30, 2020 in Washington, DC. (credit: Stefani Reynolds | Getty Images)

A House committee tasked with managing the global climate crisis this week unveiled an ambitious, detailed policy-package proposal. It brings the United States to net-zero emissions, protects vulnerable communities, and helps limit global warming to an increase of 1.5 degrees.

The full report (large PDF) from the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis clocks in around 550 pages and contains suggestions for just about every sector you can think of. Not only does report provide specific policy recommendations and spell what should happen—it also suggests Congressional committees and Cabinet departments to oversee the creation and enforcement of each element.

Broadly speaking, the goals of the plan are to bring the United States to net-zero emissions no later than 2050 and then follow through to negative emissions in the back half of the 21st century. That goal would be achieved by adopting new regulations and incentives in energy, transportation, housing, construction, manufacturing, agriculture, telecommunications, and infrastructure for a start and then building on those accomplishments from there. The report is broad and dense, but here are a few of the highlights.

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#carbon-emissions, #climate-change, #climate-crisis, #congress, #environmental-justice, #policy, #politics, #science

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Amazon really just renamed a Seattle stadium ‘Climate Pledge Arena’

As perennial front runner for the title of probably-the-most-evil tech company, Amazon has a long way to go to rehabilitate its image as a take-no-prisoners, industry-consolidating wealth machine.

In a bold effort to do so, the company announced today that it would buy the rights to Seattle’s KeyArena, an aging stadium currently under redevelopment in the city. Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos boasts that the stadium will “be the first net zero carbon certified arena in the world.”

“Instead of calling it Amazon Arena, we’re naming it Climate Pledge Arena as a regular reminder of the urgent need for climate action,” Jeff Bezos wrote on Instagram.

Other regular reminders for urgent climate action include the company’s own employees walking out to protest its lack of accountability on climate issues, its ongoing courtship with oil and gas companies and the sheer amount of times in a single day we see Amazon delivery vans dropping packages off on the same block.

Addressing its record of climate indifference, Amazon announced a $2 billion investment in sustainable efforts to reduce the company’s massive carbon footprint earlier this week as part of the same climate-friendly PR blitz.

Bezos himself announced in February that he would invest $10 billion of his personal wealth in a fund to address climate change, which is probably the least you can do when you’ve amassed an amount of wealth that’s incomprehensible to any normal person at the expense of workers, the environment and whatever else got in the way.

#amazon, #climate-change, #greentech, #opinion, #seattle, #tc

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Cities are wrestling with a potential new exodus in the COVID-19 era, but Urban-X still believes in their future

Embodying the tensions that cities across the world face as they wrestle with controlling a pandemic in dense, urban environments, Urban-X, the accelerator for technology startups focused on the problems cities face, has launched its eighth, fully remote, cohort.

While the accelerator program backed by the BMW-owned Mini Cooper automaker and the venture capital firm Urban Us is based in Brooklyn, it’s conducting its latest program virtually, with participating startups coming from Atlanta, Sydney, San Francisco, Boston, Burlington, and Los Angeles, according to a statement.

“Long term, we are bullish on cities. I think that COVID and climate change share some things in common. If we think that COVID is disruptive, and not only a threat to economic livelihood but human life, climate change, is certainly a much larger threat,” said Micah Kotch, the managing director of Urban-X. “I think that cities have withstood pandemics previously. I think that we will moving forward. The clear things that we need are really good political leadership. We need to heed science and to act quickly based on the best possible science and we need collective action. And that’s where I see a lot of overlap between covid and climate.”

The latest batch of companies that Urban-X will work with includes:

  • Adiona: a machine learning-based service to optimize hourly workforces in logistics and supply chain management. 
  • Aquagenuity: a company providing search information about water quality for consumers
  • Climate Robotics: a manufacturer of robots that produce carbon-sequestering and soil-improving biochar
  • Mobilyze: the developer of a data analytics service for electric vehicle charging station site optimization
  • Resonant Link: the creator of a wireless charging service to power robots and electric vehicles.
  • Xtelligent: a company rethinking traffic signal technology

“Not everyone can afford to move out to the suburbs and not everyone wants to. Cities are going to continue to be the epicenters of creativity and innovation,” said Kotch. “While these last three-and-a-half to four months have been a real challenge, particularly here in the U.S. we are deep believers in the vibrancy and necessity of cities.”

Later stage investors think that the Urban-X thesis can create viable businesses, with about 85 percent of the accelerator’s companies going on to raise additional rounds of funding. Some of the most successful companies (in terms of capital raised) include Bowery Farming, Starcity, Mark43, One Concern, Future Motion, Skycatch, Seamlessdocs, Revivn, BRCK and Rachio.

“Technology, investment and mentorship have the power to advance the low carbon, resilient and high density future we need for our cities,” said Shaun Abrahamson, URBAN-X Investment Committee and Managing Partner at Urban Us. “We are thrilled to have this new group of founders join URBAN-X to build creative solutions that tackle climate change and the biggest issues facing our cities.”

#articles, #atlanta, #bmw, #boston, #brooklyn, #climate-change, #global-warming, #los-angeles, #machine-learning, #managing-partner, #micah-kotch, #nature, #robotics, #san-francisco, #sydney, #tc, #united-states, #urban, #urban-us, #venture-capital

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Using past data to predict whether 2020 will be the warmest on record

One interesting way to look at the world: the darker the red, the closer the correlation between local temperature and global mean. Blue areas tend to prefer contrarian temperatures.

Enlarge / One interesting way to look at the world: the darker the red, the closer the correlation between local temperature and global mean. Blue areas tend to prefer contrarian temperatures. (credit: Brown and Caldeira/Earth and Space Science)

Meteorologists run weather-forecast models to provide good predictions of weather conditions over the next few days. Climate scientists, on the other hand, run global climate models to project the impacts of climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions over the next few decades. In between these two activities is an interesting task that has proven more difficult than either: predicting global temperature over a few years.

A new study by Patrick Brown and Ken Caldeira tries a new approach to this challenge using nothing more than statistical analysis of the previous two years’ temperatures.

The annual average surface temperature for the globe varies a bit from one year to the next even as a long-term warming trend is apparent. It’s those year-to-year wiggles that are hard to predict. They depend on variable regional weather patterns, most notably the El Niño Southern Oscillation. This seesaw pattern of warm surface water along the equatorial Pacific is significant enough to bump the planet’s average surface temperature up and down. It also affects weather patterns in many places around the world.

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#climate-change, #global-temperature, #science

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Cristobal Threatens Gulf Coast From Louisiana to Florida

The third named storm of what is predicted to be an intense hurricane season is expected to make landfall on Sunday.

#climate-change, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #el-salvador, #florida, #global-warming, #guatemala, #gulf-coast-us, #hurricanes-and-tropical-storms, #louisiana, #mexico

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New data indicates the Mississippi Delta is on borrowed time

The drowning of Louisiana's wetlands is "inevitable."

Enlarge / The drowning of Louisiana’s wetlands is “inevitable.” (credit: Louisiana Sierra Club)

Since 1932, coastal wetlands in Louisiana have declined by about 25 percent. At its fastest, the decline was around one football field lost every 34 minutes; at its slowest, every 100 minutes. The Pelican State is losing ground faster than any other state in the contiguous United States. And those losses reach far beyond its borders: coastal Louisiana plays a crucial role in fisheries, shipping, and oil and gas production.

In recent years, the wetlands have been faring better than in previous decades, possibly because there hasn’t been a Katrina-level storm in that time. But a study published last week in Science Advances suggests that this is a temporary reprieve. With sea levels rising as rapidly as they are, the wetlands, including the famed Mississippi Delta, are likely to be gone in a matter of decades—or, at most, centuries.

Tipping point

Coastal Louisiana is currently home to 15,000 square kilometers of marshland, a critical ecosystem held together by a complex, interlocking set of processes. The tide washes in; plants grow and die; sediment is brought in by rivers and builds up. If the system changes—for instance, if sea levels rise rapidly—the marsh changes, too.

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#climate-change, #earth-science, #geology, #science

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Google pledges not to make custom software for oil and gas extraction

A serious man in a suit speaks into a microphone.

Enlarge / Google CEO Sundar Pichai testifies before the House Judiciary Committee in 2018. (credit: Xinhua/Liu Jie via Getty Images)

Google says that it will not “build custom AI/ML algorithms to facilitate upstream extraction in the oil and gas industry,” the company announced on Tuesday. This represents a small but significant win for climate activists.

Google’s comment coincided with the release of a new Greenpeace report highlighting the role of the three leading cloud-computing services—Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services, and Microsoft Azure—in helping companies find and extract oil and gas. Greenpeace notes that extracting known fossil fuel reserves would already be sufficient to push the world over 2 degrees of warming. Uncovering additional reserves will ultimately lead to even more warming.

Climate activists argue that these contracts run counter to the tech giants’ broader efforts to fight climate change. All three companies have pledged to make their data centers carbon neutral in the coming decade. Amazon is seeking to bring the entire company’s net carbon emissions down to zero by 2040. Jeff Bezos even pledged $10 billion of his own money to fund efforts to combat climate change.

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#amazon, #climate-change, #global-warming, #google, #microsoft, #policy, #science

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Will the Coronavirus Crisis Trump the Climate Crisis?

The battle over how to spend recovery funds — to quickly restore the old economy or invest in a greener one — will define the post-pandemic world.

#budgets-and-budgeting, #climate-change, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #epidemics, #european-union, #fuel-emissions-transportation, #global-warming, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #politics-and-government, #regulation-and-deregulation-of-industry

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Union rep apparently threatens coronavirus infections to stop clean energy rule

Power lines cross a green field with mountains in the background.

Enlarge / Power lines run through a national park in San Luis Obsispo, California. (credit: George Rose/Getty Images)

There’s a battle raging in California over the future of natural gas. Environmentalists want building codes to encourage new buildings to be electrically heated in order to reduce carbon emissions. Natural gas utilities and labor unions representing their workers have been united in their opposition to these laws.

In March, Eric Hoffman, president of a local utility workers’ union, used an unusual tactic to stop the adoption of a new clean energy building code in San Luis Obispo, a city on California’s central coast.

“If the city council intends to move forward with another reading on a gas ban, I can assure you there will be no social distancing in place,” Hoffman wrote on March 16, in an email obtained by the Los Angeles Times. “Please don’t force my hand in bussing in hundreds and hundreds of pissed off people potentially adding to this pandemic.”

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#california, #climate-change, #covid-19, #natural-gas, #policy, #san-luis-obispo, #science

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North Carolina-based The Climate Service raises $3.8 million for climate audits

With corporations across the world taking a closer look at the effects their operations have on global climate change, investors are backing a crop of software and services that are cropping up to pull back the curtain on those climate impacts.

The latest of these to raise capital is The Climate Service, which just closed on $3.82 million in its most recent round of funding.

Interestingly, in addition to the traditional mix of venture investment firms and angel investors, the Durham, North Carolina-based company also picked up a commitment from the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants.

Institutional capital including Persei Venture and Synovia Capital also joined the round. management in the data analytics sector.

The company said it would use the cash to expand the scope of its climate scenarios, risks, and asset classes monitored by its software service.

The Climate Service bases its models and pricing of climate risk on the framework developed by the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures, which is used by over 1,000 organizations around the world, according to the company.

“Investors, markets, and regulators are increasingly requiring businesses to measure their exposure to climate change-related risk. As a result, we designed this fundraising round to enable TCS to respond to the demands of industries under pressure to understand, quantify, and manage climate risk,” said David L. Jadow of Persei Venture. “We forecast significant continued growth for TCS, and we are proud to support the company’s vision and mission to embed climate risk into global decision-making.”

#articles, #climate-change, #durham, #global-warming, #nature, #north-carolina, #tc, #tcs

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Great Barrier Reef survey: “What we saw was an utter tragedy”

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The Australian summer just gone will be remembered as the moment when human-caused climate change struck hard. First came drought, then deadly bushfires, and now a bout of coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef—the third in just five years. Tragically, the 2020 bleaching is severe and the most widespread we have ever recorded.

Coral bleaching at regional scales is caused by spikes in sea temperatures during unusually hot summers. The first recorded mass bleaching event along the Great Barrier Reef occurred in 1998, then the hottest year on record. Since then, we’ve seen four more mass bleaching events—and more temperature records broken—in 2002, 2016, 2017, and again in 2020.

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#bleaching, #climate-change, #corals, #great-barrier-reef, #science

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It looks like Brandon Middaugh is heading up the $1B Microsoft climate fund

Earlier this year, Microsoft made waves in the corporate community by coming out with one of the most ambitious and wide-ranging strategies to reduce carbon emissions from the company’s operations.

Part of that plan was a $1 billion fund that would invest in climate change mitigation technologies — specifically focused on decarbonization. At the time, details were scarce, but it looks like the strategy is becoming a little more clear, with details beginning to emerge about who will be running the show.

According to sources — and a LinkedIn profile search — it appears that Brandon Middaugh is taking point on the investment fund.

Middaugh has been at Microsoft for more than four years and worked as one of the architects of the company’s climate strategy during her tenure at the company. In her previous role as part of the company’s Cloud Energy and Sustainability team, Middaugh led the distributed energy strategy and was a part of the partnership Microsoft initiated with the East Coast regional transmission organization, the PJM — which manages the power grid for a large swath of the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic region of the U.S.

It appears that Middaugh is going to be taking point on the deployment of that $1 billion fund Microsoft announced in January, according to people who have discussed the company’s investments.

At the January event, Microsoft committed to going “carbon negative” by 2030 and said that it would remove by 2050 the equivalent of all the carbon it had emitted into the atmosphere since its founding in 1975. Those commitments are far more aggressive than any made by any other corporation in any industry.

Part of the plan involves expanding the carbon fee the company has imposed internally on its direct emission across its supply and value chains. The $1 billion fund is part of that effort to reduce emissions from suppliers and customers by financing projects and technologies that can reduce emissions with new generation or efficiency technologies, or capture and remove carbon from the atmosphere.

Equity and debt investments have to meet four criteria, including: the ability to drive meaningful decarbonization, climate resilience or other sustainability-related goals; have additional market impacts for future climate solutions; can address Microsoft’s own climate debt; and have implications for the unequal distribution of climate impacts.

Late last year, Amazon committed that it would move to 100% renewable energy powering its operations by 2030 and that it would achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2040. Meanwhile, Alphabet has been developing renewable energy projects under its moonshot division and has long been an investor in climate mitigation technologies, including the use of renewables to power its operations.

All of these efforts will need to be met by additional work from corporations and financial institutions across every industry if the world is to reduce the most dire effects of dramatic climate change. Already forest fires, flooding and other climate-related catastrophes have led financial investors and insurers to push for better mitigation strategies and to bring climate impacts front and center within corporate strategies.

Microsoft had not replied to a request for comment by the time of publication.

#brandon-middaugh, #climate-change, #environment, #funding, #microsoft, #tc

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Paper that claimed the Sun caused global warming gets retracted

Paper that claimed the Sun caused global warming gets retracted

Enlarge (credit: NASA)

A paper published last June was catnip for those who are desperate to explain climate change with anything but human-caused greenhouse gas emissions. It was also apparently wrong enough to be retracted this week by the journal that published it, even though its authors objected.

The paper’s headline conclusion was that it described a newly discovered cycle in the motion of the Sun, one that put us 300 years into what would be a thousand-year warming period for the Earth. Nevermind that we’ve been directly measuring the incoming radiation from the Sun and there has been no increase to explain the observed global warming—or that there is no evidence of a 2,000 year temperature cycle in the paleoclimate record.

Those obvious issues didn’t stop some people from taking this study as proof that past warming was natural, and only mild and unavoidable warming lies in our future.

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#climate-change, #correlation, #science, #solar-cycle

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The man behind the sphere, Freeman Dyson, is dead at 96

Dyson’s ideas even made it to where no man has gone before.

Freeman Dyson, a physicist whose interests often took him to the edge of science fiction, has died at the age of 96. Dyson is probably best known for his idea of eponymous spheres that would allow civilizations to capture all the energy radiating off a star. But his contributions ranged from fundamental physics to the practicalities of using nuclear weapons for war and peace. And he remained intellectually active into his 90s, although he wandered into the wrong side of science when it came to climate change.

Degrees? Who needs ’em?

It’s difficult to find anything that summarizes a career so broad, but a sense of his intellectual energy comes from his educational history. Dyson was a graduate student in physics when he managed to unify two competing ideas about quantum electrodynamics, placing an entire field on a solid theoretical foundation. Rather than writing that up as his thesis, he simply moved on to other interests. He didn’t get a doctorate until the honorary ones started arriving later in his career. His contributions were considered so important that he kept getting faculty jobs regardless.

That came after a fairly conventional start to his education: an undergraduate degree from the University of Cambridge. Like many other scientists at the time, his career was interrupted by World War II, with Dyson working at the Royal Air Force’s Bomber Command, evaluating data from completed missions and finding ways of getting more out of the nation’s aircraft. After the war, he returned to Cambridge to finish his degree, then started in a PhD program at Cornell University in the US.

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#climate-change, #freeman-dyson, #physics, #pseudoscience, #sci-fi, #science

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