Edition for 21 April 2020

Top Stories

The Energy 202: Biden says he’s open to ‘expanding’ his climate plan to win over young voters (Washington Post)

  • Biden’s original $1.7 trillion climate plan, released last June, calls for the United States to achieve net-zero emissions by at least 2050, all while creating 10 million well-paying jobs and helping fossil-fuel workers transition to a clean-energy economy.
  • Drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions is “is going to take leadership,” said Carol Browner, the chair of LCV’s board of directors, who ran the Environmental Protection Agency for eight years under former President Bill Clinton.
  • And more recently, BP's new CEO, Bernard Looney, has “promised to make the company net zero for carbon dioxide emissions by 2050."

Republicans Try to Block Climate Risk Assessment in Coronavirus Rescue Package (Slate)

  • This risk, that companies and their investors might be left with stranded (i.e., unprofitable) assets is only one type of climate-related risk, often referred to as transition risk.
  • Its conclusion: “The risks are underpriced.” The senators, however, want the Fed to “emphasize that, in carrying out its fiduciary duties … BlackRock must act without regard to [climate-related divestment] or other investment policies BlackRock has adopted for its own funds.” This requirement may help secure extra financial support for fossil fuel companies.
  • Last April, the president issued an executive order on “Promoting Energy Infrastructure” that directs the Department of Labor to investigate “discernible trends” regarding retirement funds’ investment in the energy sector and to issue guidance clarifying fund managers’ fiduciary duties with respect to the use of environmental criteria.

City leadership on sustainable development in the era of COVID-19 (Brookings)

  • As they scramble to protect their citizens and communities while COVID-19 ripples throughout the world, the idea of sustainable development and meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 may seem irrelevant to their current demands.
  • It’s much too early to know the full extent of the economic, social, and psychological dislocation this crisis will cause. But it’s clear that mayors and city officials are on the front lines, with implications both broad and deep for local governments.
  • The ambitious quantitative benchmarks of the SDGs may now look unreachable or even unreasonable.

Small Cities Like St. Louis Are Leading on Energy Efficiency (NRDC)

  • It’s a decisive, ambitious step in climate action because buildings make up a large part of greenhouse gas emissions globally.
  • In St. Louis, they account for more than 80 percent of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, according to the city’s latest GHG Inventory.
  • These upgrades reduce the amount of power that must be generated by fossil fuels and their associated polluting and climate-warming emissions.

Norway supreme court to hear case against Arctic oil exploration (Reuters)

  • Norway’s supreme court will hear a lawsuit opposing the country’s Arctic oil exploration brought by Greenpeace and other environmental groups, it said on Monday, in a landmark case for Western Europe’s largest oil and gas producer.
  • The environmental groups argue that the Norwegian government’s decision to grant oil exploration licences in 2016 in the Arctic Barents Sea to oil firms, including Equinor, was illegal.
  • The case is being led by Greenpeace as well as Nature and Youth, Norway’s largest youth environmental group.

Biogen Releases 2019 Corporate Responsibility Report Demonstrating Continuous Progress Across Environmental, Social and Governance Metrics (GlobeNewswire)

  • Biogen Inc. today released its 2019 Corporate Responsibility Report that demonstrated continuous progress across several environmental, social and governance (ESG) metrics.
  • The report outlines the company’s long-term commitment to corporate responsibility by taking a multi-stakeholder approach to business decisions, creating an inclusive culture, reducing its environmental footprint and increasing reporting transparency on ESG issues.
  • In 2019 the company realized an absolute reduction of water use by nearly 3 percent, hazardous and nonhazardous waste by more than 7 percent, supply chain emissions by 3 percent and non-renewable energy by 1.6 percent, all while increasing full year total revenues by 7 percent versus the prior year.

The Covid-19 pandemic is an opportunity for India to pursue clean energy more aggressively (Quartz)

  • The report “Mapping India’s Energy Subsidy 2020: Fossil fuels, renewables, electric vehicles” has been put together by two think tanks working on environmental issues—the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW).
  • “Other than the subsidies for providing clean cooking options for the poor, any other form of subsidy for the fossil fuel industry would only further the climate catastrophe and health impacts due to various forms of pollution (air, water, and land).
  • Unfortunately, fossil fuels continue to enjoy a larger share of subsidies than clean energy options, this would only further challenge the achievement of our climate goals under the Paris Agreement,” said Sunil Dahiya, who is an analyst with the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA).

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