U.S. emissions linked to over $1.8 trillion of global economic losses, study says

Read the full story from the Washington Post.

The United States and China, the world’s two leading greenhouse gas emitters, are each responsible for more than $1.8 trillion of global income losses from 1990 to 2014, according to a new study that links the emissions in individual countries to the economic impacts of climate change in others. The report may bolster the scientific basis for legal claims for losses tied to global warming.

The Dartmouth College study, published in the journal Climatic Change, linked one nation’s emissions of heat-trapping gases to losses and gains in the gross domestic product of 143 countries for which data is available. It found that five of the world’s leading emitters of greenhouse gases caused $6 trillion of global economic losses through warming caused by their emissions from 1990 to 2014. Economic losses caused by Russia, India and Brazil exceeds $500 billion over that period for each of those three emitter countries.

PFAS can still be incinerated in Illinois

Read the full story from Illinois Newsroom.

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker recently signed a new law limiting the ways so-called “forever” chemicals can be disposed of in the state. But the sheer volume of these chemicals continues to present significant challenges…

Last August, Governor Pritzker originally vetoed a bill that would ban the incineration of PFAS on the basis that the definition of “incineration” was too broad. He approved an amended version this year which carved out thermal oxidation. It’s a type of incineration used at the Veolia facility in Sauget. And it’s not the only definition in the legislation that has advocates like JD Dixon raising their eyebrows.

EPA seeks feedback on environmental justice action plan, equitable use of infrastructure funds

Read the full story at Waste Dive.

The U.S. EPA’s Office of Land and Emergency Management held a public information session on Wednesday to collect feedback on its draft Environmental Justice Action Plan, focusing specifically on how to consider EJ as it develops parameters for new waste and recycling grants funded by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

The EPA is in the midst of finalizing new grant programs for recycling infrastructure and recycling education, as well as a battery collection and labeling effort. The agency will host more feedback sessions on the EJ action plan in coming weeks and will accept written comments through Aug. 1.

Public comments are one of the most important ways to center EJ in the agency’s actions, said Nena Shaw, the EPA’s acting director of the resource conservation and sustainability division. “If we don’t provide programs that meet your needs, we are not doing our jobs,” she said.

Illinois issues draft renewable energy access plan to prioritize equity in the energy transition

Read the full story at Utility Dive.

Illinois Commerce Commission staff on Wednesday released a draft Renewable Energy Access Plan, or REAP, starting a 120-day public review and comment period.

According to the commission, “the REAP is a comprehensive, actionable plan for supporting an equitable, reliable, and affordable transition to decarbonization and meeting Illinois’ policy requirements for a clean electricity system.”

The plan is required by the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act, or CEJA, which was signed by Gov. JB Pritzker, D, last September and set a target of 100% clean energy in Illinois by 2050.

DOE awards weatherization, efficiency funding to address ‘critical gap’ in federal assistance

Read the full story at Utility Dive.

The U.S. Department of Energy on Friday awarded more than $40 million to 21 organizations and five state agencies to fund energy efficiency projects, prepare thousands of low-income homes for weatherization improvements, and help customers reduce utility costs. 

The funds come from DOE’s Weatherization Assistance Program, or WAP, which got a $3.2 billion boost in funding from the bipartisan infrastructure law.

The investment “addresses a critical gap in federal assistance,” Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm told reporters. Much of the funding will go towards improvements for homes in disrepair, so they can then be eligible for energy efficiency upgrades.

U.S. electric car sales climb sharply despite shortages

Read the full story in the New York Times.

Americans are buying electric vehicles at a record pace, undeterred by rising prices and long waits for delivery, a further indication that the twilight of the internal combustion engine is on the horizon.

Vehicles that run on batteries accounted for 5.6 percent of new-car sales from April through June, still a small slice of the market but twice the share a year ago, according to Cox Automotive, an industry consulting firm. Overall, new-car sales declined 20 percent.

Companies like Tesla, Ford Motor and Volkswagen could have delivered more electric cars if they had been able to build them faster. The carmakers struggled with shortages of semiconductors, which are even more essential to electric cars than to gasoline vehicles, while prices soared for lithium and other raw materials needed for batteries.

Carbon capture projects, regional CO2 pipeline design to get $2.6B in DOE funding proposal

Read the full story from Utility Dive.

The Department of Energy plans to offer $2.54 billion to help finance six carbon capture and storage, or CCS, demonstration projects at coal- and gas-fired power plants as well as at industrial facilities, according to a notice of intent issued Wednesday.

DOE will also provide $100 million for designing regional carbon dioxide pipeline systems, the department said in a separate notice.

“To meet President Biden’s climate goals, we have to rapidly decarbonize our power generation and heavy industries – such as steel production – that are essential to the clean energy transition,” DOE Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a statement.

Urban flooding presents challenges for electric vehicle charging stations

Read the full story at Smart Cities Dive.

Considerations around sea level rise and intense rains come as the Federal Highway Administration weighs where to effectively locate chargers for the future as more people drive EVs.

Gen Z doesn’t think companies, philanthropy, government are listening

Read the full story at Philanthropy News Digest.

Young Americans are most concerned about stopping school shootings (82 percent), reducing gun violence and mass shootings (72 percent), and protecting access to clean water and fresh air (72 percent), a report from Murmuration—a political strategy organization founded by Emma Bloomberg—and the Walton Family Foundation finds.

The report, Looking Forward with Gen Z: A Gen Z Research Report (36 pages, PDF), found that while economic issues related to inflation and the cost of living weigh on Gen Z, young people between the ages of 15 and 25 are focused on guaranteeing a quality education (71 percent), preserving individual rights and freedoms (67 percent) alongside dealing with the mental health crisis, and ensuring health care as a right.

No more excuses: restoring nature is not a silver bullet for global warming, we must cut emissions outright

Nico Smit/Unsplash, CC BY

by Kate Dooley, The University of Melbourne and Zebedee Nicholls, The University of Melbourne

Restoring degraded environments, such as by planting trees, is often touted as a solution to the climate crisis. But our new research shows this, while important, is no substitute for preventing fossil fuel emissions to limit global warming.

We calculated the maximum potential for responsible nature restoration to absorb carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. And we found that, combined with ending deforestation by 2030, this could reduce global warming 0.18°C by 2100. In comparison, current pledges from countries put us on track for 1.9-2℃ warming.

This is far from what’s needed to mitigate the catastrophic impacts of climate change, and is well above the 1.5℃ goal of the Paris Agreement. And it pours cold water on the idea we can offset our way out of ongoing global warming.

The priority remains rapidly phasing out fossil fuels, which have contributed 86% of all CO₂ emissions in the past decade. Deforestation must also end, with land use, deforestation and forest degradation contributing 11% of global emissions.

The hype around nature restoration

Growing commitments to net-zero climate targets have seen an increasing focus on nature restoration to remove CO₂ from the atmosphere, based on claims nature can provide over one-third of climate mitigation needed by 2030.

However, the term “nature restoration” often encompasses a wide range of activities, some of which actually degrade nature. This includes monoculture tree plantations, which destroy biodiversity, increase pollution and remove land available for food production.

Indeed, we find the hype around nature restoration tends to obscure the importance of restoring degraded landscapes, and conserving existing forests and other ecosystems already storing carbon.

A monoculture tree plantation in Norway of spruce trees. Havardtl/Wikimedia, CC BY-SA

This is why we applied a “responsible development” framework to nature restoration for our study. Broadly, this means restoration activities must follow ecological principles, respect land rights and minimise changes to land use.

This requires differentiating between activities that restore degraded lands and forests (such as ending native forest harvest or increasing vegetation in grazing lands), compared to planting a new forest.

The distinction matters. Creating new tree plantations means changing the way land is used. This presents risks to biodiversity and has potential trade-offs, such as removing important farmland.

On the other hand, restoring degraded lands does not displace existing land uses. Restoration enhances, rather than changes, biodiversity and existing agriculture.

The potential of nature restoration

We suggest this presents the maximum “responsible” land restoration potential that’s available for climate mitigation. We found this would result in a median 378 billion tonnes of CO₂ removed from the atmosphere between 2020 and 2100.

That might sound like a lot but, for perspective, global CO₂ equivalent emissions were 59 billion tonnes in 2019 alone. This means the removals we could expect from nature restoration over the rest of the century is the same as just six years worth of current emissions.

Based on this CO₂ removal potential, we assessed the impacts on peak global warming and century-long temperature reduction.

We found nature restoration only marginally lowers global warming – and any climate benefits are dwarfed by the scale of ongoing fossil fuel emissions, which could be over 2,000 billion tonnes of CO₂ between now and 2100, under current policies.

Rapidly phasing out fossil fuels is the only way we’ll reach our climate goals. AAP Image/Julian Smith

But let’s say we combine this potential with a deep decarbonisation scenario, where renewable energy is scaled up rapidly and we reach net zero emissions globally by 2050.

Then, we calculate the planet would briefly exceed a 1.5℃ temperature rise, before declining to 1.25-1.5℃ by 2100.

Of course, phasing out fossil fuels while restoring degraded lands and forests must also be coupled with ending deforestation. Otherwise, the emissions from deforestation will wipe out any gains from carbon removal.

Given this, we also explored the impact of phasing out ongoing land-use emissions, to reach net-zero in the land sector by 2030.

As with restoration, we found halting deforestation by 2030 has a very small impact on global temperatures, and would reduce warming by only around 0.08℃ over the century. This was largely because our baseline scenario already assumed governments will take some action. Increasing deforestation would lead to much larger warming.

Taken together – nature restoration plus stopping deforestation – end-of-century warming could be reduced by 0.18℃.

Is this enough?

If we enter a low-emissions pathway to limit global warming to 1.5℃ this century, we expect global temperature rise to peak in the next one to two decades.

As our research shows, nature restoration will unlikely be done quickly enough to offset the fossil emissions and notably reduce these global peak temperatures.

A significant increase in deforestation would see significant levels of global warming. Kai Bossom/Unsplash, CC BY

But let us be clear. We are not suggesting nature restoration is fruitless, nor unimportant. In our urgency to mitigate climate change, every fraction of a degree of warming we can prevent counts.

Restoring degraded landscapes is also crucial for planetary health – the idea human health and flourishing natural systems are inextricably linked.

What’s more, protecting existing ecosystems – such as intact forests, peatlands and wetlands – has an important immediate climate benefit, as it avoids releasing the carbon they store.

What our research makes clear is that it’s dangerous to rely on restoring nature to meet our climate targets, rather than effectively and drastically phasing out fossil fuels. We see this reliance in, for instance, carbon offset schemes.

Retaining the possibility of limiting warming to 1.5℃ requires rapid reductions in fossil fuel emissions before 2030 and global net-zero emissions by 2050, with some studies even calling for 2040.

Wealthy nations, such as Australia, should achieve net-zero CO₂ emissions earlier than the global average based on their higher historical emissions.

We now need new international cooperation and agreements to stop expansion of fossil fuels globally and for governments to strengthen their national climate pledges under the Paris Agreements ratcheting mechanism. Promises of carbon dioxide removals via land cannot justify delays in these necessary actions.

Kate Dooley, Research Fellow, Climate & Energy College, The University of Melbourne and Zebedee Nicholls, PhD Researcher at the Climate & Energy College, The University of Melbourne

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.