The #Climate Fight Isn’t Lost. Here Are 10 Ways to Win — Rolling Stone Magazine #ActOnClimate

Click the link to read the article on the Rolling Stone website (Jeff Goodell). Here’s an excerpt:

The clock is running on the climate crisis, but we have the tools and knowledge — and the crickets — that we need

The climate crisis is here, and heartbreak is all around us. The early promise of dramatic action from President Biden is sinking in the old mud bog of fossil-fuel politics. Meanwhile, despite 40 years of warnings from scientists and the decline in the cost of clean energy, carbon pollution is still increasing and the world is heating up as fast as ever. The final sentence of last February’s U.N.’s latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on the impacts of that warming is stark and unequivocal: “Climate change is a threat to human well-being and the health of the planet. Any further delay in concerted global action will miss a brief and rapidly closing window to secure a livable future.” Or as U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres put it after an IPCC report on the mitigation of climate change was released this month: “Investing in new fossil fuels infrastructure is moral and economic madness.”

[…]

1. Tax carbon.
In February, Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse took to the Senate floor for his 280th “Time to Wake Up!” speech about the climate crisis. The centerpiece of Whitehouse’s plan was the need for a tax on fossil fuels. It is an argument that speaks to a truism of economics: to make something scarce, tax it…

Leaf charging at the Lionshead parking facility in Vail September 30, 2021.

2. Electrify everything.
In the U.S. there are roughly 290 million cars and trucks, 70 million fossil-fueled furnaces, 60 million fossil-fueled water heaters, 20 million gas dryers, and 50 million gas stoves. What if all those were electrified? Saul Griffith, an Australian American engineer and author of Electrify: An Optimist’s Playbook for Our Clean Energy Future, thinks electrification can reduce 80 percent of U.S. emissions by 2035…

A solar parking facility at Rutgers University in Piscataway, New Jersey, with an output of 8 megawatts of electricity.

3. Go local with solar.
It’s now obvious: The future is solar on homes, solar on apartment buildings, solar on malls, solar on parking lots, solar on fast-food joints, burrito stands, and strip clubs. With the sun, small is beautiful. Wasted space becomes a platform for power generation. With solar, cost has always been a problem, but that is ending now as the price of solar panels has plummeted over the past decade. Nobody pretends that you are going to make steel from solar, or that it will be the best way to generate power in every situation,but it is clean and reliable and won’t go down in a blackout like the one in 2021 that left 11 millions Texans freezing in the dark for days and was responsible for as many as 700 deaths…

Xcel Energy proposes to close two of its coal-fired generating units at Comanche, indicated by smokestacks at right. The stack at left, for the plant completed in 2010, provides energy for a portion of Aspen and for the Roaring Fork and Eagle valleys. In the foreground is the largest solar farm east of the Rocky Mountains at its opening. Photo/Allen Best

4. Buy out coal plants.
Coal is the dirtiest, most carbon-intensive fossil fuel, responsible for 30 percent of global carbon emissions. The biggest coal burner is China, which consumes more coal than the rest of the world combined. Here in the U.S., coal is slowly being displaced by cheap gas, wind, and solar. But there are still 179 active coal plants, generating 20 percent of U.S. electricity. Shutting them down and replacing them with cleaner, cheaper energy is the fastest way to lower carbon emissions and slow the climate crisis. “The transition beyond coal is inevitable,” says Justin Guay, director for global climate strategy at the Sunrise Project. “But the timeline on which it happens isn’t.”

[…]

Denver School Strike for Climate, September 20, 2019.

5. Start telling the truth about the climate crisis.
How much is that $2 million house on the beach going to be worth when there’s an octopus swimming through the living room? What’s going to happen to all those refineries on the Gulf Coast as the demand for oil plummets? Banks and corporations face huge financial risks as the age of climate disruption accelerates. One just-published report found around $343 billion in weather- and climate-related economic losses in 2021 alone, the third-costliest year on record. A 2019 study concluded that 215 of the world’s largest companies face nearly $1 trillion in climate-related risk as soon as 2024. Very little of this is disclosed in corporate financial reports. “The coronavirus pandemic has laid bare just how vulnerable the United States is to sudden, catastrophic shocks,” Sarah Bloom Raskin, Biden’s nominee to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, wrote in The New York Times. “Climate change poses the next big threat.”

[…]

Denver Water’s planned new administration building via the Denver Business Journal

6. Build denser, fairer, more humane cities.
Urban life is far gentler on the planet than suburban life. People who live in cities spend less time stuck in traffic in their SUVs; they have better access to local food; they live in buildings that are more efficient. But cities need a climate upgrade too: more bikes, better public transit, more green space…

Bears Ears Protest in Salt Lake December 2, 2017. Photo credit: Mother Jones Magazine

7. Get loud and hit them where it hurts.
The biggest roadblock to climate action has always been the cowardice and complicity of our political leaders. For many, the lack of significant accomplishments at last year’s Glasgow climate talks and the failure of Biden’s Build Back Better agenda have been a brutal awakening. “Activists have become jaded because there’s been a lot of promises from politicians without a lot of action to back it up,” says Dana Fisher, an environmental-activism expert at the University of Maryland and author of American Resistance. “A lot of young people are looking at other tactics now.”

[…]

Graphic credit: The Nature Conservancy

8. Fund small-scale geo-engineering research.
Maybe Dr. Evil wants to deliberately fuck with the Earth’s climate, but nobody else does. Nevertheless, it’s probably inevitable, given the risks we face. There are many potential forms of geoengineering, from brightening clouds to stabilizing glaciers, but the technology that gets the most attention is solar engineering, which amounts to scattering particles in the stratosphere to reflect away sunlight and cool the Earth. Scientists know it works because it’s essentially what volcanoes do (particles injected into the stratosphere from Mount Pinatubo, which erupted in 1991, cooled the planet 0.6 C for more than a year, until they rained out of the sky)…

Deep-fried house crickets (Acheta domesticus) at a market in Thailand. By Takeaway – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26774492

9. Eat crickets!
America’s (and, increasingly, the world’s) appetite for meat is barbecuing the planet. Livestock eat up a lot of land, drive deforestation, and are carbon-intensive in their own right. Without reforming industrial agriculture and reducing meat consumption, it will be virtually impossible to limit warming to 2 C, much less 1.5 C…

Protest against Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline in Minnesota. Photo: Dio Cramer

10. Fight and win the culture war.
Much has been said about the failure of Big Media to cover the climate crisis. It’s too often pigeonholed as an environmental issue rather than a slow-rolling planet-wide catastrophe. Or it’s infused with “both-sidesism,” in which journalists are duped into the false idea that there is any real debate about the fundamentals of climate science. Or it’s just not discussed at all. When Hurricane Ida slammed into the Gulf Coast late last summer, six of the biggest commercial TV networks in the U.S. — ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox, NBC, and MSNBC — ran 774 stories about Ida, an analysis by the watchdog group Media Matters found. Only 34 of those stories mentioned climate change. Mark Hertsgaard, the executive director of Covering Climate Now, an initiative dedicated to improving climate reporting, calls it “media malpractice.”

U.S. Interior secretary to promote big spending jump for tribal, #climate programs — #Colorado Newsline

Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, center, and U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar of Texas, right, visit Castner Range National Monument in Texas on March 26, 2022. (Courtesy of Interior Department/Public domain)

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland will ask a U.S. House spending panel to increase funding for the department’s tribal programs and climate resilience efforts, according to written testimony released ahead of a hearing scheduled for Thursday.

The administration’s budget request for fiscal 2023 would significantly increase spending for the Interior Department. Its agencies oversee onshore oil and gas drilling, tribal assistance, national parks and wildlife policy, and manage public lands accounting for 10% of acreage across the country.

Haaland’s written testimony to the House Appropriations Energy-Environment Subcommittee was published on a House website ahead of the hearing.

GET THE MORNING HEADLINES DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX

The budget “sets ambitious goals, but they are achievable,” Haaland’s written testimony to the committee reads. “Working together, we have the opportunity to invest now to strengthen our Nation for all Americans, protect our environment, and ensure our future generations continue to not only enjoy, but improve our way of life.” 

Haaland is scheduled to appear before the panel Thursday. Her opening statement will likely be shortened from the written version. Members of the panel will be able to question her.

Though President Joe Biden released a budget request last month, Congress has the sole authority to write spending bills. Cabinet officials typically appear on Capitol Hill to defend the spending request as part of the process.

Biden’s request included a 19% increase for Interior — nearly four times the 5% boost for all domestic discretionary spending. Haaland’s written testimony summarizes some of the largest line items in the proposal.

At several points in the testimony, Haaland characterizes the fiscal 2023 request as a supplement to the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure law that included billions for Interior programs to clean up abandoned mines, reduce wildfire risk and build water infrastructure.

Her remarks call for passing a 2023 funding bill that “complements this investment.”

Tribal programs

Biden’s fiscal 2023 request includes a significant boost for several funding sources for tribes. 

Haaland, who is the first Native American person to serve in a Cabinet, wrote that it was “deeply meaningful” for her to promote the budget blueprint, including the request for tribal programs.

The administration proposed increasing spending on Indian Affairs programs by nearly 25% to $4.5 billion, a sum Haaland called “unprecedented.” The request would prioritize sovereignty and advance equity and opportunity for tribal communities, Haaland said. 

The infrastructure law provides $2.5 billion to help deliver water resources to tribes. That spending is included in the request, as is another $340 million over 10 years to support the operation and maintenance of that effort.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs would receive $2.8 billion, an increase of more than $500 million from fiscal 2022. A major piece of that funding would go toward operating costs for tribal self-governance of federal programs.

Bureau of Indian Education funding would go from $1.3 billion in fiscal 2022 to $1.6 billion under the Biden request. Construction money for tribal schools would see a nearly 60% increase to $420 million.

Climate priorities

Haaland will ask for funding to help transition to renewable energy and take other steps to mitigate climate change, while also highlighting the need to adapt to a certain amount of climate change that is already unavoidable.

“Worsening drought, increased weather risks, more extreme wildfires, profound threats to wildlife habitats, warming water temperatures, and new threats from invasive species are among the tangible challenges land and resource managers face right now,” her testimony reads.

Climate-driven Colorado River ‘megadrought’ worst in 1,200 years, study concludes

The request includes $1.4 billion for Bureau of Reclamation water projects to deal with droughts that are expected to worsen in coming years. That funding would build on $8.3 billion in the infrastructure law. 

A separate Appropriations panel, the Energy-Water Subcommittee, is responsible for that part of the department’s funding.

The request also includes $1.2 billion for wildfire management, an increase of nearly $175 million over the fiscal 2022 level.

The request would also target climate resilience spending for tribal communities. The administration has asked for $61 million for a tribal climate resilience program, nearly double the $32 million enacted for the current fiscal year.

The request includes funding across several Interior agencies for restoration and conservation.

“Healthier lands are more resilient to the effects of the changing climate, and investments that are made now will help ensure the unique and spectacular lands and resources Interior manages endure for future generations,” the testimony says.

The department also continues to work on its initiative to protect 30% of lands and waters by the end of the decade. Haaland’s testimony does not mention specific funding for the program.

Interior support of jobs 

The Interior department supported an estimated 1.9 million jobs in 2019, according to Haaland’s testimony. 

Those jobs were mainly driven by the department’s energy programs.

The 2023 request includes extra funding to spur job creation from money in the infrastructure law and the Great American Outdoors Act, a 2020 law that provided permanent funding for public lands infrastructure, Haaland said.

The administration’s request aims to grow renewable energy sources, but spending on wind and solar is still dwarfed by oil and gas programs.

The request would provide about $101 million for renewable energy programs for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the Bureau of Land Management programs. It would also send $11 million to the BLM to plan renewable energy projects on public lands.

Meanwhile, the request calls for $477 million for oil and gas programs, 13% more than the same programs received in 2022.  

The administration’s climate and conservation programs will also create jobs, Haaland says, including in a Civilian Climate Corps and through new jobs in clean energy.

Still, Interior plays a role “in balancing conservation and development,” Haaland will tell the committee. 

The budget request includes money to speed permitting for clean energy infrastructure and for a Fish and Wildlife Service program to support development that protects migratory birds. 

SUPPORT NEWS YOU TRUST.

Colorado Newsline is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Colorado Newsline maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Quentin Young for questions: info@coloradonewsline.com. Follow Colorado Newsline on Facebook and Twitter.

Air-source heat pumps at the home of Joe Smyth and Kristen Taddonio in Fraser, Colo. Photo/Joe Smyth

Click the link to read the article on the Big Pivots website (Allen Best):

The coldest temperature this winter at the new home of Joe Smyth and Kristen Taddonio was 17 below. They live in Fraser, the Colorado town that used to get far, far colder.

Still, that February night was cold enough to test the design and technologies employed in construction of the couple’s 1,176-square-foot house. They insulated carefully, of course, and have solar panels. Even after charging their electric car, their house produces more energy than it consumes.

An air-source heat pump was central to their mission in creating a net-zero home, one gutted of emissions from fossil fuels. It extracts heat from outside, even on chilly nights, to warm the interior.

The Mitsubishi model used at the Fraser house promises to deliver the necessary indoor heat even when outside temperatures dip to 13 below. To supplement the air-source heat pump should temperatures dive to 30 below, as was once common, the couple also installed electrical-resistance heating. It wasn’t needed.

Colorado needs many more air-source heat pumps — and fewer carbon emissions from buildings — to meet its mid-century decarbonization target goals of 90%.

Getting this right during housing construction costs less in the not-very-long term. Building permits for 48,200 housing units, both single-family and multi-family, were issued last year, according to the Colorado Business Economic Outlook. That’s like adding a new Greeley each year along with a few small towns.

Retrofitting our older buildings is laborious and expensive. I know, because my house was built in 1889. You don’t swap out buildings the way you would computers or cars.

Several bills working their way through the Colorado Legislature this spring would nudge Coloradans toward low- and no-carbon technologies. All cost more upfront, but save money, sometimes lots of it, over time, while reducing or eliminating emissions.

Carrots would be offered by SB22-051 to those who purchase air- and ground-source heat pumps. Purchasers would be allowed income-tax exemptions of up to 10% of the purchase price.

Other provisions in the bill approved by the House Energy and Environment Committee offer tax incentives for energy storage and buildings materials with low levels of embodied carbon.

Christine Brinker, representing the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, testified that her family’s air-source heat pump paid for itself in six years because of lower energy costs. Air-source heat pumps help residents of Geos, a project in Arvada, to pay as little as $6 a month in energy costs.

“It is just more efficient to move heat than to create heat,” said Rep. Mike Weissman, a Democrat from Louisville and a bill supporter. “I think we can do some good here by amending that pay-off time curve just a little bit. That’s something that we need to do to facilitate our transition” from fossil fuels.

Air-source heat pumps can also move heat from inside buildings during summer, effectively becoming air conditioners. Even in Winter Park, real estate buyers expect air conditioning.

The second bill, HB-1362, would require towns, cities, and counties to adopt the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code before 2025. This latest code advances efficiency 8% to 9% compared to the 2018 iteration.

Natural gas will still be allowed, but air-source heat pumps more efficiently meet the 2021 code’s elevated standards.

The Colorado Municipal League objected to loss of local control. Two representatives of rural areas described it as onerous for small towns despite $3 million earmarked for training. Homebuilders argued that the advanced standards would make already expensive housing less affordable.

Howard Geller, representing the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, cited a study from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory that found the latest code would indeed add $200 to the cost of an average mortgage in Colorado built to this latest code. Lower energy costs will more than recoup that extra cost, he said, even in the first year.

Rep. Tracey Bernett, a Democrat from Longmont whose district includes nearly half the 1,084 homes destroyed by the Marshall Fire, said she sponsored the bill with full confidence it will help, not harm, her constituents.

These bills both moved from the House committee on strictly party-line votes, Democrats in support. A third bill, HB22-1381, has bipartisan sponsors — and bipartisan support. It would allocate $20 million for grants to further geothermal development by tapping the year-round heat of 55 degrees found 8 to 10 feet below the surface.

As with air-source heat pumps, sponsors said the market needs to be nudged to adopt technology that costs more upfront than installing natural gas infrastructure but pays off in the long term. “This is something we don’t do enough of,” said Rep. Hugh McKean, a Republican from Loveland, who is installing geothermal in a house he is constructing.

“I really like this bill,” said Perry Will, a Republican from New Castle, citing the experiences of family members with the technology at Rulison and elsewhere.