Reasons for Hope Nov 15, 2020: Biden special issue
Positive news on positive progress towards combating the climate crisis
Welcome seekers of hope! Lots to be hopeful about over the last couple of weeks:
$57bn investment fund lost a climate change battle
Russia starting to take the Paris Agreement seriously
UK nuclear going mini
More exciting news on bulk energy storage (absolutely critical for harnessing natural energy sources)
And of course, Biden as president-elect. I certainly learnt a lot more about US government than I ever cared for (being based in London).
2050 is too damn late
"We're doing magic things by 2050!". That's just lovely, but is it hopeful? I think not. So I'm no longer reporting on any organisation or country that talks about commitments by 2050.
It's too late and too far away to be meaningful.
Particularly given overall track records so far of the Paris Agreement (Quick! Name one country that's on track to meet it! Hint: see past issues)
Biden Biden Biden
The world was collectively getting repetitive strain injury from refreshing browser pages last week.
Regarding the climate crisis, it really was just too hard to think positively about a future with a tyrant clown president in power.
Something sembling sanity prevailed though, and Tthere's been a lot of excitement about what the Biden Administration can do. So I'm digging into that a bit this week.
Use federal government procurement to work towards 100% clean energy and zero-emissions vehicles.
Make government buildings and facilities more energy efficient
Limit methane pollution of gas and oil operations with specific requirements
Implement the Clean Air Act, including an emphasis on fuel-economy standards
Reduce emissions with updated standards for appliance and building efficiency.
Focus on liquid fuels, including biofuels and incorporate agriculture into climate solutions
Make federal permit decisions accountable to emissions standards and make infrastructure investment reduce climate pollution
Require public companies to disclose climate risks and emissions in operations and supply chain
Permanently protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
Protect biodiversity by protecting America’s lands and waters, with a goal of 30% protected by 2030.
Domestic friction could be overcome by using international relationships. Biden's impact will be limited by a Republican Senate majority. But playing on the world's stage could provide a way forward.
This week's favourite YouTube video: cheap, safe bulk energy
Redox batteries: really cheap and safe bulk energy storage. The essence though is that there's a lot of innovation going on in the long-term energy store (more than 4h) so that solar, wind, and waves can be viable energy sources. Geek alert: it talks about ions and charged particles.
Natural Resources: Coral reef bursts back to life
I wasn't quite sure whether to include this because it wasn't really anything people did. But here we go anyway.
"It appeared the coral had pulled off an "amazing" return towards health over the past six months. We were expecting to see widespread mortality, and we just didn't see it … which is a really amazing thing," -- ABC
Policy: Carrie Symonds sells Boris Johnson on green bonds
With Cummings' departure, has UK PM found a new puppetmaster, this time climate-friendly?
"Carrie Symonds is passionate about the environmental policy and wants a fund She has urged Boris Johnson to create 'green bonds' for cutting emissions" -- Mail Online
Activism: 25yo wins battle against $57bn investment fund over climate change
Quite extraordinary precedent here. This gives me hope because there's so much capital in investment funds and this will help ensure it's being invested sensibly.
"McVeigh … alleged that the super fund hadn’t acted in his best interests by not doing enough to mitigate the financial risks of climate change." From Business Insider
Also: Climathon! Worldwide movement to focus on innovative climate crisis solutions: Global Climate Day is happening 13 Nov for a week.
Finance & Investment: What's up with Jeff's $10bn climate fund anyway?
"Bezos is prepared to give $100 million each to four of the most established environmental groups in the [USA]" -- The Atlantic
Transport: First human ride on a Hyperloop
These are incredibly efficient ways to travel because of how fast you can potentially go (sometimes faster than aeroplanes). Could hyperloops be the future of transport? In some parts of the world, almost certainly. Reuters
Energy: Lots of Nuclear
It turns out that most nuclear power plants are using technology that is many many decades old. It's now possible to build much smaller ones, and that's precisely what Rolls-Royce plans to do: 16 new mini powerplants in the UK, generating thousands of jobs -- BBC News
And here's an exciting update on solar power: solar panel windows.
“by harvesting only invisible light, these devices can provide a similar electricity-generation potential as rooftop solar while providing additional functionality to enhance the efficiency of buildings, automobiles and mobile electronics." Treehugger
Also in Energy news:
New nuclear reactor designs much more efficient. Lots of heat generated that can be put to good use.
Positive progress on UK Fusion reactor. Much safer as it works with Hydrogen. Still 10+ years away though.
Waste: creating solid fertiliser from human waste
A bit icky to talk about but yeah turns out our bodies don't need much nitrogen or phosphorus, but that is useful for plants.
“The most nutrient-rich part of wastewater is human urine, which makes up less than 1% of the total volume but contains 80% of the nitrogen and 50% of the phosphorus. We discovered how to recycle this urine into valuable – and sustainable – farmland fertiliser.” -- The Conversation
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Postscript: Shell's Epic Gaffe
Some tone-deaf intern running Shell's social media account was probably fired this week over running a poll to say "what ideas do you have for people to cut emissions". While it's unlikely anything meaningful will come from it, it was a good laugh to see how people patiently pointed out that they were one of the biggest emissions sources and maybe they should stop. I'm putting it mildly. Source