Japan aims to be carbon-neutral by 2050

October 27, 2020 by  
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Japan has a goal to achieve carbon-neutrality by the year 2050. Speaking in his first address to the Japanese parliament since taking office, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga promised that the government will be aiming to cut greenhouse gas emissions to zero over the next 30 years. Although Suga did not give an elaborate plan on how he intends to achieve this new objective, he said that it is possible to achieve carbon-neutrality without jeopardizing the economy. “Responding to climate change is no longer a constraint on economic growth,” Suga said. Related: Companies in Japan launch edible single-use bags to save Nara deer Japan is currently the world’s fifth-largest carbon dioxide emitter . Unfortunately, the country has been slow in responding to environmental needs. Today, Japan mainly relies on coal and fossil fuels to power its industries. But the prime minister is assuring the nation and the world that the government will be working toward renewable energy, with the aim of restructuring industrialization to align with clean power. “We need to change our thinking to the view that taking assertive measures against climate change will lead to changes in industrial structure and the economy that will bring about growth,” Suga said. In its most recent renewable energy plan, Japan had set to attain an 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2060. The plan included a possibility of its power coming from nuclear energy, an option that is widely contested in the country. After a 2011 nuclear power accident in Fukushima, the Japanese public has remained opposed to nuclear energy. Today, most of the nuclear reactors in the country stand shut down, with only a few being revived. For Japan to achieve its new target, it is necessary that the country looks at other alternatives rather than nuclear energy. “Nearly 10 years on from Fukushima, we are still facing the disastrous consequences of nuclear power, and this radioactive legacy has made clear that nuclear energy has no place in a green, sustainable future,” said Sam Annesley, executive director for Greenpeace Japan. Further, Annesley said the country needs to target 50% renewable energy by 2030 to reach net-zero energy by 2050 and help prevent global warming above 1.5°C. Via The Guardian Image via Ryo Yoshitake

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Modular Tree-House School concept connects kids with nature

October 27, 2020 by  
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Could this be the school of the future? Designer Valentino Gareri has created a concept for the Tree-House School, a sustainable and modular educational building that highlights children’s relationship with nature. The treehouse design distributes classes and age groups through multiple levels, incorporating usable roof classroom space and combining indoor with outdoor educational activities. As more and more schools prepare to reopen, the importance of having ample opportunities for distance learning and access to fresh air has become paramount. The Tree-House School envisions a learning center that is not only suspended and immersed in nature but also includes all phases of the educational process from kindergarten to secondary school. Related: Rimbin concept offers a look into the future of infection-free playgrounds Additionally, as people continue to relocate from big cities to less-populated areas thanks to the flexibility of remote work, rural areas around the world are gaining more popularity. The proposed design includes a modular educational center containing multiple levels of schooling, with all spaces fitting into two rings that create two courtyards and additional accessible rooftops. Classrooms are located inside the main circle, all with easy connection to courtyards and outdoor landscapes to help increase the relationship with nature both physically and visibly. Each 55-square-meter module is made of cross-laminated timber and corresponds to 20-25 students per classroom connected by a central corridor. The Tree-House School is operable 24/7 and features a community center, a plaza, a café and a library available to the entire community . The modular design allows for future school expansions, different programming and even opportunities for multiple functions, like temporary residential units or medical centers for emergencies. The building’s faceted facade is created by alternating solid timber and glazed panels; the circular perimeter blocks direct sunlight with opaque panels and diffuses light through transparent ones. Sustainability and energy-efficient measures include rainwater collection systems, natural cross-ventilation, photovoltaic panels and wind energy devices. + Valentino Gareri Images via Valentino Gareri

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Modular Tree-House School concept connects kids with nature

Impossible Foods is testing revolutionary plant-based milk

October 26, 2020 by  
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What Impossible Foods has done for veggie burgers — created something that looks, tastes and bleeds like meat — the food technology company is now doing for milk. Impossible Foods has unveiled that it is developing a plant-based milk that mimics the taste, texture and functionality of dairy milk. When plant-based milks already fill multiple shelves in health food stores across America, why do we need more? “The plant-based alternatives that are out there are inadequate,” said Impossible Foods CEO Patrick O. Brown, as reported by CNBC . “The reality is that if they weren’t, there wouldn’t be a dairy market.” Consumers want milk that doesn’t separate when stirred into hot coffee. The new Impossible Foods plant-based milk won’t separate, as demonstrated by the company’s food scientists in a press conference. Related: Impossible Foods debuts plant-based pork at CES That dairy market is shrinking, while plant-based products are on the rise. Last year, non-dairy milks brought in $1.8 billion. But Brown won’t rest until there’s no meat or milk market left at all. His goal is to substitute plant-based alternatives for all animal-derived foods by 2035. Brown has called animal agriculture “the world’s most destructive technology” and is on a mission to save the world from global warming by providing faux products to please mainstream tastes. Because as we all know by now, people aren’t going to change their habits just because they’re destroying the planet. A launch date has not yet been announced for the product, which is still in the development stage. Since its founding in 2011, Impossible Foods has raised $1.5 billion in investment capital. Its next R&D goals include creating life-like fish, steak and bacon. Brown is not skimping on a smart workforce. In a press conference last week, he invited engineers and scientists to join the company’s Impossible Investigator Project. “Whatever else you may be doing, it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the impact you can have here with our project,” he said. “Leave your stupid job and come join us.” + Impossible Foods Via VegNews and CNBC Image via Pixabay

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Researchers test seawater air conditioning as a renewable cooling alternative

October 20, 2020 by  
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A new study led by the International Institute of Applied System Analysis (IIASA) indicates that using seawater air conditioning is a greener alternative to conventional AC and could reduce cooling costs significantly. The study, which was published in the journal Energy Efficiency , was conducted to determine the pros and cons of seawater air conditioning (SWAC). The researchers behind the study say that there is a need to find renewable air conditioning alternatives to conventional options as global warming worsens . The study looks at the possibility of pumping deep seawater from 700-1,200 meters deep at the temperature of 3° to 5° Celsius to the coast, where it exchanges heat within a cooling system. The study now shows that just one cubic meter of seawater could provide cooling energy equivalent to that provided by 21 wind turbines. To better understand the pros and cons of SWAC systems, the researchers developed a computational model used to estimate the cost of cooling around the world. The model was also used in determining the possibility of using this approach in all parts of the world. Related: Cool ways to skip the air conditioning and still keep your home chill The results showed that while it is possible to use SWAC systems in many parts of the world, they would require heavy initial investments. But in comparison to conventional air conditioning, the research determined that SWAC would offer lower operational costs. Further, the study found that in some coastal cities and islands, the cooling costs would drop as much as 77% of the normal cooling costs via conventional AC. According to the study, the primary consumers of this technology would be airports, hotels and resorts among other establishments that consume high quantities of power. According to Julian Hunt, lead author of the study, SWAC systems have the potential of increasing efficiency over time. “We call this approach ‘High-Velocity Seawater Air-conditioning’,” Hunt explained. “This design configuration allows such projects to be built with an initial cooling load and expand the cooling load modularly through smaller additional capital costs.” While the study has established many positives of using seawater air conditioning, there are challenges that were identified. The systems would need to be handled and monitored carefully to preserve marine life and not disrupt the ecosystems. Hunt said, “While it does have its challenges, seawater air-conditioning is an innovative and sustainable technology that has great potential for expanding into a benchmark system for cooling in tropical locations close to the deep sea and will help fulfill our cooling needs in a warming world.” + IIASA Image via Dean Moriarty

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Finnish stamps shine a harsh light on climate change

October 19, 2020 by  
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The Finnish Post wanted to get the memo out about the climate crisis , but instead of using the internet, it went old school with snail mail. A series of new postage stamps designed by Finnish studio Berry Creative sends the message using a ubiquitous product coupled with basic science. The line of stamps includes three designs created using heat-reactive ink. When heated, the black silhouetted image turns clear, disappearing to reveal the stark reality of climate change below. The first image features a snow cloud that transforms to show a thunderstorm underneath. The transition from snow to rain depicts the loss of winter snowfall, a crucial natural element for Finland . The second stamp addresses immigration with a depiction of limited migration turning into mass migration as the climate changes, forcing refugees to relocate and find new homes. The third image illustrates a bird that mutates into a skeleton, representing the extinction of many of Finland’s native species. Related: Church Stone Shelter welcomes hikers in Finland In an application for the Dezeen Award in Graphic Design, Berry Creative’s creative director Timo Berry stated, “I dug into different consequences of climate change here in Finland, and chose three – snow turning into water and rain in the winters, massive climate refugee crisis, and the  loss of endemic species .” Each stamp encourages the exchange of information regarding climate change’s consequences, going so far as to state that the stamps are visions of the future “if we don’t act fast to fight climate change.” Aiming to inspire concrete actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Finland and around the world, the stamps were specifically designed with eye-catching colors and jagged edges to represent a sense of urgency. “I wanted to play on very alarming imagery,” Berry told Dezeen. “Usually I like to communicate an alternative, a way to go forward, not just point on a particular problem, but here there was no space for that,” he continued. In the end, the message is clear. In the words of the studio, “Unlike the effect in the stamp,  climate change  is not reversible.” + Berry Creative Via Dezeen Images via Berry Creative

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Beyond emissions: The life of a carbon molecule

October 12, 2020 by  
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Beyond emissions: The life of a carbon molecule David Parham Mon, 10/12/2020 – 01:30 Carbon is everywhere. Carbon atoms flow through all living organisms, from the atmosphere to the earth to the oceans and back again. But carbon is also moving constantly through the global economy, which historically has been powered by burning fossil fuels for energy. As a result, carbon dioxide (CO2) and other emissions have risen dramatically since the industrial revolution, presenting a daunting array of challenges for people, planet and prosperity. As the most prevalent of the greenhouse gases (GHGs), CO2 plays an outsize role in global climate change — for example, it accounted for 81 percent of U.S. emissions in 2018. If human activity, including economic activity, is the primary driver of global warming, it only makes sense that an effective solution must start with changing that behavior. But how does one go about shifting the actions of thousands of businesses around the world? The critical role of emissions data First, let’s be clear: Measuring GHG emissions is incredibly important. GHG emissions are what directly contribute to global temperature rise and are therefore the ultimate target of any action to combat climate change. As a result, this data informs policy decisions, shapes more effective regulation and helps scientists and other experts understand trends and evaluate potential solutions. Metrics that focus on the direct levers available to a company — and measure how the company is using them — provide actionable data to management and decision-useful information to a firm’s investors. GHG emission data also helps business monitor the effectiveness of mitigation strategies, and it helps investors understand broadly how the systemic risk across their portfolio is distributed among exposure to emitters (Scope 1 emissions), energy users (Scope 2) and companies with significant supply chain or use-phase impacts (Scope 3). The value of GHG emissions data to these users is incalculable. However, at the end of the day, we don’t just want to observe the needle — we want to move it. And, especially when it comes to indirect emissions, that often requires a targeted approach — one that explores the important interconnections between the many points along the carbon value chain. Identifying the levers of influence So, how do we catalyze an evolution of carbon-related economic activity all over the world? As with most things in economics, the answer starts with incentives. Companies understand that financial success and thriving markets go hand-in-hand, so they’re naturally inclined to care about how climate change affects their customers, employees, suppliers, communities and more. But caring about an issue and managing it effectively are very different things. Effective risk management is often a function of the degree of control or influence a company has over the risk. With GHG emissions, that is a straightforward proposition for direct emitters. For everyone else, it can get significantly more complicated. According to an analysis of CDP data , just seven industries account for 85 percent of direct Scope 1 emissions. That means a lot of companies — and, indeed, entire industries — need to identify levers of influence that align with their operations, business models and value creation strategies. The questions companies must ask themselves are, “What business opportunities are inherent in this rapidly changing competitive landscape?” “What are the risks if we ignore climate change?” And, “What levers can we pull to help mitigate these risks, realize the opportunities and help society achieve its emission reduction goals?” Accordingly, the indicators companies use to measure and manage performance must capture these risks and opportunities, which often vary from one industry to the next. The microeconomic decisions such metrics enable can exert strong influence on emissions while simultaneously contributing to enterprise value creation. For companies, investors and the planet, it’s win-win. Figure 1. The Life of a Carbon Molecule through the Value Chain Moving along the value chain To illustrate, it may be helpful to trace the life of a carbon molecule through the value chain and explore the specific operational or product-design decisions that might be made at each stage. (See Figure 1, above.) Let’s start with the “emitters,” such as oil and gas companies and utilities. For these businesses, Scope 1 emissions data is actionable business intelligence. This is because they face potentially significant financial risks directly related to their emissions, including from existing or anticipated regulations to limit emissions, restrict or mandate specific energy sources, establish a price on carbon or other measures. Although, in many cases, these companies may pass their increased operating costs or capital expenditures on to customers, this can dampen demand, especially as alternative energy sources and technologies become increasingly competitive. But where direct emitters are in the driver’s seat in managing direct GHG emissions, companies further down the value chain have very different levers of influence. Take energy consumers, for example, such as the industrial machinery and goods industry, which manufactures equipment for a variety of industries, including engines, earthmoving equipment, trucks, tractors, ships, industrial pumps, locomotives and turbines. A company in this industry may benefit from measuring its emissions, but the financial risks it faces are more directly related to other issues: energy pricing and availability; fuel-economy standards; and materials sourcing. By measuring and managing its performance on these industry-specific issues, the company can reduce its own financial and operational risks and exert significant influence on emissions in a variety of ways, including the following: Action Influence on Emissions Financial Impact More energy-efficient manufacturing Reduces upstream emissions from generation Lowers manufacturing costs More fuel-efficient vehicles Reduces downstream emissions during use phase Increases revenue by meeting consumer demand Designing products that minimize the use of critical materials or that may be easily recycled Reduces upstream emissions associated with extractive activities Saves raw materials costs Finally, as another example, automakers face a similar challenge in that the bulk of their emissions are associated with the use-phase of their products — which falls outside their direct control. Nevertheless, a car manufacturer has an important lever of influence in designing products that meet high standards for fuel economy or in diversifying its set of product offerings to increasingly feature zero-emission vehicles. As consumer preferences shift, this approach enables automobile companies to capture market share while also addressing both downstream (use-phase) and upstream emissions (by decreasing the demand-side “pull”). The value of industry specificity As these simple, hypothetical examples demonstrate, companies can face different emissions-influencing decisions depending on the activities in which they are involved or the products they produce. Of course, reality is always messier. For example, when a company is involved in an array of activities or produces a wide range of products, aggregate emissions data can get especially unwieldy. Similarly, companies face different risks related to indirect emissions in their supply chain versus those that result from the use of their products. For these firms and their investors, only industry-specific metrics can help them tease apart the relative contributions of business functions and inform an effective risk management strategy. This dynamic is reflected in how we approach climate-related disclosure at the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB). Although our standards call for direct emitters to disclose their Scope 1 emissions in 22 industries, we also identify other industry-specific levers of influence. Applying our evidence-based, market-informed standard-setting process to each of 77 industries, we’ve identified metrics associated with the key operational or product-design decisions most likely to influence indirect emissions — topics such as materials sourcing, energy usage, product energy-efficiency and end-of-life management. Because the financial implications of each of these decisions are different, rolling them up into a single indirect emissions metric does not give investors insight into how a company is adapting its operations, business strategy and/or product mix to address climate-related risks and opportunities. Although a single indirect emissions metric may not account for this complexity, measuring factors that affect indirect emissions that are under a company’s direct control helps align incentives and drive mutually beneficial outcomes. For example, consider the financial impact of regulations designed to reduce tailpipe emissions at two points along the value chain (see bottom of Figure 1): The auto manufacturer is likely to face financial risks and opportunities related to regulations targeting the fuel economy of its products. The company can manage this risk at least in part by changing its product mix toward increasingly fuel-efficient or zero-emission vehicles, lowering use-phase emissions. At the other end of the value chain, the financial risk to the oil and gas company is several steps removed. Increasingly fuel-efficient vehicles likely would reduce the use of refined products, which would lower demand for hydrocarbons, which would decrease oil prices, which would impact the resiliency of the company’s reserves, which would impair the value of the assets on its balance sheet, which finally would put downward pressure on its stock price. The company could respond by investing in lower-cost, more resilient reserves or diversifying its business model toward alternative or renewable forms of energy — both metrics in the SASB Standard for this industry. While the ultimate effect is to reduce tailpipe emissions, the levers of control available to companies at different points in the value chain differ. SASB focuses on measuring the industry-specific factor that is most relevant to the financial impact at each point. And because these decisions and impacts are connected through the value chain, in both cases effective management of the issue would support both financial risk-return objectives and emissions mitigation goals. Conclusion The life of a carbon molecule is complicated but important. The point at which a molecule of carbon leaves the value chain and enters the atmosphere as CO2 is driven by a complex and interrelated set of financial drivers. At each point in the value chain, these incentives and the business decisions that result, have significant implications for both upstream and downstream emissions. Such complex systems-level problems require comprehensive solutions, and SASB standards offer an important set of industry-specific metrics that complement existing, widely used measures for indirect emissions. As a leading contributor to climate change, GHG emissions pose obvious threats to human health, infrastructure, natural resources, energy security and even international order. They also create daunting challenges for business. A landmark 2018 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggested the price tag of unchecked climate change will run from $54 trillion to $69 trillion. Similarly, a 2019 study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that under a “business as usual” scenario, global GDP would drop by 7.2 percent per capita by 2100. Clearly, it’s critical for the world to have access to complete, reliable and timely GHG emissions data. But it’s not enough to simply know how much closer we’re getting to the iceberg; we also need to turn the ship’s wheel. Metrics that focus on the direct levers available to a company — and measure how the company is using them — provide actionable data to management and decision-useful information to a firm’s investors. As a result, they help mobilize global capital markets toward a future in which business can optimize its impacts and offer solutions at scale.  To learn more about SASB’s approach to climate-related disclosure, watch the recording of the recent Climate Week webinar  “Accelerating Change through ESG Disclosure.” Pull Quote Metrics that focus on the direct levers available to a company — and measure how the company is using them — provide actionable data to management and decision-useful information to a firm’s investors. Topics Carbon Removal ESG Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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Greenland ice sheet melting faster than in last 12 millennia

October 2, 2020 by  
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Greenland’s massive ice sheet is melting at a rate faster than experienced in the past 12,000 years, according to a new study in  Nature . Published on Wednesday, the study, dubbed “Greenland Ice Sheet Will Exceed Holocene Values this Century,” revealed that Greenland is already losing ice at a rate four times faster than any period in the past 11,700 years.  Earlier studies showed that the fast rate of ice melt will lead to rising sea levels and disruption in ocean currents. According to these predictions, Greenland’s ice contributes the most to sea-level rise, with advanced models showing it raising sea levels by 0.7 millimeters each year. Estimations predicted the rate of sea-level rise to increase an additional four times by the end of the century. However, the new study explains that the actual impact of Greenland’s ice sheet melting could prove even worse than earlier predicted.  The new paper offers a revised prediction, showing that increased greenhouse gas emissions may worsen the state of affairs. If nothing changes regarding the current state of global warming, sea levels may rise between 2 to 10 centimeters per year by the century’s end. According to Jason Briner, a geologist at the University of Buffalo and the study’s lead author, the changes humans have made to the planet are already affecting Greenland ice melting rates. “We have altered our planet so much that the rates of ice sheet melt this century are on pace to be greater than anything we have seen under natural variability of the ice sheet over the past 12,000 years,” Briner said. Briner adds that the current ice melting state is not caused by natural variability as it has been historically. Instead, the current state is purely caused by humans. Andy Aschwanden from the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks wrote commentary on the research , saying that the only stopping greenhouse gas emissions can stop Greenland’s mass wasting. “Thanks to the work of Briner and colleagues, we are now one step closer to the goal of accurately and confidently predicting mass loss from the Greenland ice sheet. However, we are also increasingly certain that we are about to experience unprecedented rates of ice loss from Greenland, unless greenhouse-gas emissions are substantially reduced,” Aschwanden said.  + Nature Via EcoWatch Image via Pixabay

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Greenland ice sheet melting faster than in last 12 millennia

RBG left these 4 lessons for the climate fight

September 29, 2020 by  
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RBG left these 4 lessons for the climate fight Rushad Nanavatty Tue, 09/29/2020 – 01:30 Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a hero. The obituaries have focused on her legacy as a feminist icon, her singular determination, her deep humanity, and her profound common sense. These traits were exemplified by her famous dissents — equal parts restrained and biting — against a series of regressive Supreme Court majority decisions. We don’t immediately think of RBG as an environmental activist or climate champion ( Greta Thunberg fandom  notwithstanding). However, her life and career offer plenty of inspiration for our work at RMI — and for anyone concerned with preserving a livable planet. When I think about RBG, these are the lessons I take for the climate fight. 1. Climate action honors RBG’s legacy on equality RBG did more to advance the cause of equality than any justice since Thurgood Marshall. Her life and career were defined by it. As a schoolgirl in Brooklyn, she objected to the fact that the boys went to woodshop while the girls sewed. As co-founder of the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project, she convinced the Supreme Court to rule, for the first time, that gender discrimination was unconstitutional (despite being led by a Chief Justice who had  threatened to resign  if a woman were appointed to the court). As a member of the that court, she fought for voters’ rights (Shelby County v. Holder), comprehensive healthcare coverage (Burwell v. Hobby Lobby), and federalism (Bush v. Gore). She did it patiently and incisively, referring to her role in her ACLU cases as “a kind of a kindergarten teacher… because the judges didn’t think sex discrimination existed.” Showing how discrimination hurt men was often the tactic she used to generate empathy and understanding among the male judges she was dealing with. Climate action honors that legacy — because climate change is as stark an inequality issue as it gets and requires every bit as much doggedness to address. Climate action honors that legacy — because climate change is as stark an inequality issue as it gets and requires every bit as much doggedness to address. The impacts of global warming are deeply regressive, disproportionately hurting our poorest and most vulnerable communities. Black and Hispanic Americans are exposed to  63 percent and 56 percent  more pollution than they create. Our history of redlining has left low-income and minority communities  dangerously exposed to extreme heat . Americans are  far more vulnerable to climate disasters  if they are poor, elderly, disabled, don’t own a car, or can’t speak English. And during and after these events, the rich tend to leave and the poor tend to stay;  poverty rates can climb by a full percentage point  in areas hit by climate disasters. We’re seeing this starkly with our western wildfires — to which Native Americans are six times  more vulnerable  and Black and Hispanic Americans are 50 percent more vulnerable than Whites. And as Bill McKibben  points out , inaction on climate amounts to “generational aggression: it consigns the planet’s young people (and all future generations) to an ever-grimmer planet.” If anyone is inspired by RBG lifelong crusade as the “ Great Equalizer ,” then the climate fight is where it’s at. 2. If you fight well, a big loss can eventually turn into an even bigger win In 2007, Lily Ledbetter sued her employer, the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, for years-long gender-based pay discrimination. A 5–4 court decision went in favor of Goodyear on procedural grounds (i.e., that Ledbetter hadn’t filed the charge early enough). RBG delivered her  dissent  from the bench — a rare open rebuke to her all-male colleagues’ “cramped” interpretation of the law: “The Court’s insistence on immediate contest overlooks common characteristics of pay discrimination, [which] often occur, as they did in Ledbetter’s case, in small increments… Small initial discrepancies may not be seen as meet for a federal case, particularly when the employee, trying to succeed in a nontraditional environment, is averse to making waves… Pay disparities, of the kind Ledbetter experienced, have a closer kinship to hostile work environment claims than to charges of a single episode of discrimination. Ledbetter’s claim… rested not on one particular paycheck, but on ‘the cumulative effect of individual acts.’” Because the court got it wrong, Congress was inspired to step up and get it right. The  Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act  of 2009 was the first piece of legislation signed into law by President Obama. The clarity and conviction of RBGs’ effort in a losing cause was key to achieving the much bigger legislative win. Ledbetter credited RBG’s dissent for giving her “ the dignity to go on ” as she testified before Congress multiple times in the run up to the Act’s passage. We are yet to see comprehensive federal climate legislation in the United States. But a stalled effort is also an opportunity to gather energy. With each serious attempt at a nationwide climate action — the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill, the Green New Deal resolution, the Smith-Lujan clean energy standard proposal — the people on the right side of history sharpen their arguments and strengthen their coalitions. As my colleague Wendy Jaglom has  pointed out : In three short years  [since President Trump’s announced withdrawal from the Paris agreement], the number of EVs on the road has doubled, 16 states have committed to phase down HFCs, the number of cities committed to 100 percent renewable electricity has quintupled, and seven states and 27 gas companies have committed to methane leak reduction. Today, one-third of all Americans live in a jurisdiction committed to 100 percent clean electricity, six million people live in cities committed to all-electric new building construction, and two-thirds of Americans support a 100 percent clean economy by 2050, a carbon tax, and stronger fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks. If the administration’s rejection of the Paris agreement was the equivalent of a flawed interpretation of the law, our burgeoning trans-ideological climate movement may be the equivalent of changing the law itself — more consequential and more resilient. 3. “Speaking in a judicial voice” can help deliver outcomes we all want In a  1992 lecture , RBG talked about the importance of staying cordial and assuming good intentions even when voicing disagreement. In her own words (and quoting Roscoe Pound): “One must be sensitive to the sensibilities and mindsets of one’s colleagues, which may mean avoiding certain arguments and authorities, even certain words… I emphasize that dissents are not devoutly to be avoided. I question, however, resort to expressions that generate more heat than light… It is not good to burden an opinion with “intemperate denunciation of colleagues, violent invective, attributions of bad motives, and insinuations of incompetence, negligence, prejudice, or obtuseness.” The most effective dissent, I am convinced, spells out differences without jeopardizing collegiality or public respect for and confidence in the judiciary.” Given the state of Congress today, and our more general state of political polarization, it may be hard to resist the eye-roll — but resisting it is more important than ever. We need to suppress the friendly fire even within the climate action community. I’ve been in meetings on the Green New Deal where environmental justice groups automatically view all business and industry as evil — and in DC conference rooms where well-meaning business people and policy wonks dismiss those environmental justice groups as liberal “enviro” fantasists. RBG’s guidance echoes Amory Lovins’ longstanding philosophy: “If we  focus on outcomes, not motives , we can achieve results that we all want, but for different reasons… If we simply do what makes sense without having to agree on why it’s important, we and our planet will be better off.” This logic is profoundly applicable to the energy transition. Regardless of whether you care about jobs, industrial competitiveness, resilience, social equity, or simply not breaking the planet, the answer entails accelerating our movement away from fossil fuels and toward a combination of efficiency and renewables. 4. The cost of implementation is irrelevant when the cost of inaction is unthinkable Massachusetts v. EPA  was probably the most prominent environmental case handled during RBG’s time on the Supreme Court — with the court ruling that carbon dioxide is subject to regulation by the EPA under the Clean Air Act. But a more technical and obscure case may be more instructive in our current moment. The most effective dissent, I am convinced, spells out differences without jeopardizing collegiality or public respect for and confidence in the judiciary. In 2001’s  Whitman v. American Trucking Associations , the trucking industry argued that the EPA should consider implementation costs when setting  pollution limits . The court unanimously disagreed — because the statute contains several explicit “bright line” factors — without listing cost as one of them. If legislators wanted the EPA to consider cost, they would have said so; “Congress doesn’t hide elephants in mouseholes,” wrote RBG’s opera buddy, Antonin Scalia, on behalf of the court. Today, with a planet on fire, it is worth considering that principle. As we have written before, the cost of climate inaction  dwarfs  the cost of action to point that it renders the latter meaningless in comparison. There is over $5 trillion in value-at-risk to US assets under a middle-of-the-road global warming scenario—not including the cost of market volatility. Our country can clearly spend when it needs to (or Congress wants to); nearly $2.7 trillion in CARES Act funding approved within two weeks,  $2.4  trillion to $ 3 trillion  on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, or the annual $1 trillion a year that our fossil fuel-burning power plants cost America, based on the federal government’s base-case estimates on the social cost of carbon. The cost of greening our economy seems quaint in comparison;  $476 billion  for comprehensive grid modernization, for example, or $11 billion for a nationwide network of EV fast charging stations. A program to upgrade 120 million homes would cost  $3.6 trillion  — while generating  $1.4 trillion  in net value (energy cost savings minus retrofit costs). In the  Whitman  case ,  RBG and her colleagues ruled that implementation costs were irrelevant when stacked against the primary “requisite to protect the public health” with “an adequate margin of safety.” Replace “public health” with “planet,” and you have the argument for an ambitious green recovery and rebuilding program. — Losing a hero is hard. But it also creates the space — and the need — for others step off the sidelines and into the fray. Once we’re done mourning, we must get to work. Pull Quote Climate action honors that legacy — because climate change is as stark an inequality issue as it gets and requires every bit as much doggedness to address. The most effective dissent, I am convinced, spells out differences without jeopardizing collegiality or public respect for and confidence in the judiciary. Topics Climate Change Leadership Collective Insight Rocky Mountain Institute Rocky Mountain Institute Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has lunch with a group of Wake Forest law students in the Worrell Professional Center on Wednesday, September 28, 2005. Photo by Wake Forest University School of Law/Flickr

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RBG left these 4 lessons for the climate fight

UN report shows global warming could pass 1.5C limit before 2030

September 11, 2020 by  
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According to the United Nations’ United in Science Report 2020 , global temperatures could exceed the 1.5°C limit set in the Paris Agreement in the next decade. Global temperatures have been on a steady rise since the 1800s due to the effects of industrialization. According to the report, global temperatures have already risen by 2°F (1.1°C) since the late 1800s. Of greater concern is the fact that the last five years have been hotter than previous years. Although the high temperatures experienced in the last five years could be temporary, there is a cause for alarm if global warming continues at the current rate. According to the UN, the world has about a 25% chance of experiencing a year of temperatures hot enough to push global temperatures past the 1.5°C limit in the next five years. The report, released by the UN World Meteorological Organization, reinstates the importance of the Paris Agreement . In 2015, world leaders set two warming limits, with 1.5°C being the most stringent. The limits were set to mark temperature changes where human survival will be more difficult. Related: Wildfires have burned 2.3M acres across California this year The report has come at a time when the U.S. is experiencing record-setting temperatures and destruction. A Labor Day weekend heatwave led to several wildfires in California and burned a record amount of land across the state. Death Valley also hit 130°F last month, marking the highest temperature ever recorded on Earth. Fires are also burning in the Amazon and the Arctic. “Record heat, ice loss, wildfires, floods, and droughts continue to worsen, affecting communities, nations, and economies around the world,” wrote UN Secretary-General António Guterres in his foreward. The United in Science report highlighted more disruptions that are likely to occur in the coming years as a result of burning fossil fuels . The world should expect increased polar ice melting and rising sea levels. The only hope is for countries to drastically cut down the use of fossil fuels. Guterres said, “The solution to slowing down the rate of global temperature rise and keeping it below 1.5°C is for nations to dramatically cut emissions , with the aim of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.” + United in Science 2020 Via Huffington Post Image via Emilian Robert Vicol

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UN report shows global warming could pass 1.5C limit before 2030

Greenland ice sheet loses record amount of ice in 2019

August 24, 2020 by  
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According to new satellite data analysis by a group of scientists, the Greenland ice sheet lost ice at a rate of 1 million metric tons per minute in 2019. This is the highest rate of ice melt recorded in Greenland. The findings were published in the journal Communications Earth & Environment and revealed that the Greenland ice sheet shrank by 532 billion metric tons in 2019 alone. The high rate of Greenland’s ice melt is attributed to the effects of climate change. The report shows that temperature rise in the Arctic has been double that of lower latitudes. This has led to the continued rapid melting of ice into the oceans. It is the melting ice sheets that are contributing the most to the rise in sea levels, posing threats to coastal cities. Related: Greenland’s ice sheet lost 197 billion tons of ice in July An analysis of the data, which dates back to 2003, shows that the amount of ice that melted in 2019 alone is nearly double the annual average since 2003. In past years, the Arctic lost an average of 255 billion metric tons of ice per year, while in 2019, 532 billion metric tons of ice were lost. Although scientists knew that ice loss in Greenland was accelerating, they did not expect the drastic shift experienced in 2019. The scientists behind the study say that the melting experienced last year might be the biggest loss in centuries and possibly millennia. According to Ingo Sasgen of the Alfred Wegener Institute in Bremerhaven, Germany and lead author of the study, the melting rate experienced in 2019 was “shocking and depressing. But it’s also not very surprising, because we had other strong melt years in 2010 and 2012, and I expect we will see more and more.” Last year also saw a lower amount of snowfall, meaning less ice was added as more ice melted. Sasgen said, “The real message is that the ice sheet is strongly out of balance.” + Communications Earth & Environment Via The Guardian Image via Jean-Christophe ANDRE

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Greenland ice sheet loses record amount of ice in 2019

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