Edition for 23 January 2020

Top Stories

Volkswagen ordered to pay $196.5M in emissions scandal (CTV News)

  • Volkswagen was ordered Wednesday to pay $196.5 million to the Canadian government for importing cars that secretly violated the country's emissions standards, a record-setting fine an Ontario judge said marks "a new era" in environmental protection.
  • Judge Enzo Rondinelli handed down the fine hours after the company formally pleaded guilty to all 60 environmental charges it faced in the emissions-cheating scandal.
  • Volkswagen has 30 days to pay the money, which will go to the federal government's Environmental Damages Fund.

US drinking water contamination with ‘forever chemicals’ far worse than scientists thought (Guardian)

  • The contamination of US drinking water with manmade “forever chemicals” is far worse than previously estimated with some of the highest levels found in Miami, Philadelphia and New Orleans, said a report on Wednesday by an environmental watchdog group.
  • The findings here by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) show the group’s previous estimate in 2018, based on unpublished US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data, that 110 million Americans may be contaminated with PFAS, could be far too low.

Climate change threatens billions in CalPERS pension fund (LA Times)

  • California’s massive Public Employees’ Retirement System has released the first climate risk assessment of its $394-billion pension fund.
  • The draft report, which was submitted to the CalPERS board this month, found that one-fifth of the fund’s public market investments were in sectors that have high exposure to climate change.
  • “There’s a lot of money at stake.” The financial toll of climate change stems partly from its physical impacts, such as rising sea levels, fiercer storms and heat waves.

Morrison just adding mirrors to the smoke, with no real action (The Sydney Morning Herald)

  • Now that ridicule and outright denial no longer serve their purpose, the right demands a “balanced approach” to dealing with climate change.
  • Scott Morrison continues to do what he does best: create glib diversions from, or barriers to, acknowledging we must do more to address climate change and global warming.
  • Not content with clinging to a spurious “emissions’ reduction” policy (considered by world experts as inadequate by any standard), he now disingenuously claims hazard reduction is tantamount to action on climate change not realising, or more worryingly knowing full well, he is talking about symptoms of climate change, not underlying causes like maybe overuse of that black rock he carried into Parliament.

Factbox: Climate change plans of the leading U.S. Democratic candidates (Reuters)

  • The leading Democratic candidates all believe climate change is an existential threat to the planet and have vowed to bring U.S. greenhouse gas emissions down to net-zero by 2050.
  • Joe Biden, former vice president under Barack Obama, touts a $1.7 trillion plan to set the United States on a course to achieve 100% clean energy and net-zero emissions by 2050.
  • The plan calls for the installation of 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations nationwide by 2030, rejoining the United States to the Paris Climate Agreement, ending fossil fuel subsidies, and providing $400 billion for research and development in clean technology.

Risk Thinking in an Unstable World (Leader's Edge Magazine)

  • Financial institutions and other businesses are being called on to measure the financial risks of climate-related change to their organizations.
  • Conference organizers in California initially asked Dembo to avoid mentioning climate change, a request that was rescinded only after two months of haggling.
  • Many of the transformers pass through forests susceptible to fire, making such a scenario quite feasible given our changing climate.

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