Edition for 01 April 2020

Top Stories

Trump administration to finalize weaker mileage standards, in blow to Obama-era policy (Washington Post)

  • The Trump administration is set as soon as Tuesday to undercut President Barack Obama’s most significant effort to combat climate change, finalizing a rule that would weaken the federal government’s gas mileage standards for the nation’s cars and pickup trucks, according to two federal officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the rule was not yet public.
  • “They’re doing a rule to damage public health,” said Chester France, a former senior career official at the Environmental Protection Agency who helped oversee the Obama-era mileage standards and now works as a consultant for the Environmental Defense Fund.
  • It also would release an additional 1.5 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions into the air over five years, according to an analysis by the Environmental Defense Fund — equivalent to the pollution released by 68 coal plants operating during that time.

Trump completes rollback of Obama-era vehicle fuel efficiency rules (Reuters)

  • The announcement - condemned by Democrats and environmentalists while being lauded by big business - sets up a legal battle, with California and 22 other states planning to challenge the rewrite of what had been one of most ambitious U.S. policies aimed at combating climate change.
  • The policy reversal marks the latest step by Trump, a Republican, to erase environmental policies pursued by Obama, a Democrat.
  • James Owens, acting head of the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said the plan “strikes the right balance between environmental considerations, health and safety considerations and economic considerations.” House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, disagreed, saying the administration’s decision will harm public health and endanger U.S. economic security.

Santos investors to turn up heat on climate change targets (The Sydney Morning Herald)

  • Oil and gas giant Santos is facing significant investor pressure over climate change as influential shareholder advisers recommend defying the board and supporting demands for hard emissions-reduction targets.
  • Santos' commitments on climate change are set to be questioned at Friday's AGM.
  • The $55 billion super fund HESTA, which owns shares in Santos, confirmed it had voted in favour of both.
  • "We have consistently voted for resolutions that seek to ensure alignment between a company's stated climate approach and their support for corporate lobby groups who have pushed to limit policies to address climate change," HESTA chief investment officer Sonya Sawtell-Rickson told The Age and Sydney Morning Herald.

Same Symptoms, Different Disease: What We Can Learn About Climate Action from COVID-19 (The Aspen Institute)

  • For many of us tapped into the climate change movement, much of what has happened in the last few weeks has felt eerily recognizable.
  • The coronavirus pandemic is on a strikingly similar course to that charted for climate change and it is critical that we pay attention to these similarities and what we might learn from them.
  • On course with the trajectory of the climate crisis, national and global leadership has been slow to acknowledge and quick to undermine the scientific facts and risks of the coronavirus pandemic.

With the Coronavirus, It’s Again Trump vs. Mother Nature (NY Times)

  • We have a president who is enamored with markets but ignorant of Mother Nature, and we have paid a steep, steep price for that — and will pay an even bigger price when it comes to climate change, if Trump remains in charge.
  • As Rob Watson, one of my favorite environmental teachers, likes to remind people: "Mother Nature is just chemistry, biology and physics."
  • But that is exactly what Trump did initially with the coronavirus — and is trying to do still with climate change.

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