“Cap and trade is not going to happen next year, or the year after that, … or the year after that,” recalled Gerard J. Waldron, the former staff director and chief counsel for the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, paraphrasing President Barack Obama’s forecast for climate change legislation following the 2010 midterm election.
Waldron, now a partner at Covington & Burling, opened a recent American Constitution Society (ACS) panel discussion, Global Warming and Political Cooling, with a reflection on the Obama administration’s efforts to combat this problem. In June 2009, the House passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act, which according to The New York Times was the first time either the House or the Senate had approved legislation “meant to curb the heat-trapping gases scientists have linked to climate change.” That summer’s apex of optimism only gave way to the great failure that was the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference. And by the following summer, the Senate still had not taken up the bill.
Against this backdrop, environmental groups are looking to new local, state and regional legislative efforts along with enforcement of national legislation already on the books to combat climate change.
Environment America, one such group, released a report on restoring “momentum in the fight against global warming.” According to its estimates, the U.S. could reduce emissions standards by as much as 20 percent by 2020 and 34 percent by 2030 by adopting clean energy policies that include increased CAFE standards.
“Wherever we can get emissions reductions, wherever we can get them quickly, wherever the public support exists, we’re working to do that,” said Anna Aurilio, director of Environment America’s Washington, D.C. office. “We’re going to have to actually enact comprehensive climate legislation, but there is a ton of stuff we can do to reduce tons.”
She points to these “incremental steps” that will bend the emissions curve downwards and ultimately allow this country to wean itself off of oil. “We’d like to live in communities where people’s houses use no net energy except for the energy that they produce themselves on site, where they can get to work or school or play through alternatives other than driving, and if they have to drive, that their car can plug into the solar panel on the roof.”
David Doniger, a policy director and senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council, discussed his use of tort litigation to limit greenhouse gas emissions, a tactic with which fellow panelist Andrew B. Clubok disagreed.
“The tort system … is uniquely ill-equipped to deal with climate change,” said Clubok, who is a partner at Kirkland & Ellis, arguing that these issues should not be resolved before a judge or a jury.
The litigation is part of a multi-track approach described by Doniger that includes both enforcement of existing laws and lobbying for new ones.
“You can take a big initial bite out of carbon pollution under the existing Clean Air Act,” Clubok says, but, “you can’t make the long term reductions that are needed out to 2050.” For that, the country needs “Clean Air Act 4.0,” referring to legislation like the 2009 House bill that ultimately went nowhere.
Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), one of the original sponsors of the 2009 bill—also known as the Waxman-Markey bill—lamented recently in Politico that House Republican leadership is unwilling to work with him to solve this problem.
“We cannot repeal the laws of nature,” Waxman writes. “If we continue to do nothing, the floods, wildfires, heat waves and extreme weather that have wreaked havoc across our nation—at a cost of tens of billions of dollars annually—will increase and intensify. And future generations will never understand why we squandered our shrinking opportunity to protect the planet.”
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California faces another "critically dry year" according to state officials, and a destructive wildfire season looms on its horizon. But in a state that welcomes innovation, water efficacy approaches and drought management could replenish California, increasingly threatened by the climate's new extremes.
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Wisdom the mōlī, or Laysan albatross, is the oldest wild bird known to science at the age of at least 70. She is also, as of February 1, a new mother.
<div id="dadb2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="aa2ad8cb566c9b4b6d2df2693669f6f9"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1357796504740761602" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">🚨Cute baby alert! Wisdom's chick has hatched!!! 🐣😍 Wisdom, a mōlī (Laysan albatross) and world’s oldest known, ban… https://t.co/Nco050ztBA</div> — USFWS Pacific Region (@USFWS Pacific Region)<a href="https://twitter.com/USFWSPacific/statuses/1357796504740761602">1612558888.0</a></blockquote></div>
By Hui Hu
Winter is supposed to be the best season for wind power – the winds are stronger, and since air density increases as the temperature drops, more force is pushing on the blades. But winter also comes with a problem: freezing weather.
Comparing rime ice and glaze ice shows how each changes the texture of the blade. Gao, Liu and Hu, 2021, CC BY-ND
Ice buildup changes air flow around the turbine blade, which can slow it down. The top photos show ice forming after 10 minutes at different temperatures in the Wind Research Tunnel. The lower measurements show airflow separation as ice accumulates. Icing Research Tunnel of Iowa State University, CC BY-ND
While traditional investment in the ocean technology sector has been tentative, growth in Israeli maritime innovations has been exponential in the last few years, and environmental concern has come to the forefront.
theDOCK aims to innovate the Israeli maritime sector. Pexels<p>The UN hopes that new investments in ocean science and technology will help turn the tide for the oceans. As such, this year kicked off the <a href="https://www.oceandecade.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)</a> to galvanize massive support for the blue economy.</p><p>According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem," <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019338255#b0245" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Science Direct</a> reported. It represents this new sector for investments and innovations that work in tandem with the oceans rather than in exploitation of them.</p><p>As recently as Aug. 2020, <a href="https://www.reutersevents.com/sustainability/esg-investors-slow-make-waves-25tn-ocean-economy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Reuters</a> noted that ESG Investors, those looking to invest in opportunities that have a positive impact in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, have been interested in "blue finance" but slow to invest.</p><p>"It is a hugely under-invested economic opportunity that is crucial to the way we have to address living on one planet," Simon Dent, director of blue investments at Mirova Natural Capital, told Reuters.</p><p>Even with slow investment, the blue economy is still expected to expand at twice the rate of the mainstream economy by 2030, Reuters reported. It already contributes $2.5tn a year in economic output, the report noted.</p><p>Current, upward <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/-innovation-blue-economy-2646147405.html" target="_self">shifts in blue economy investments are being driven by innovation</a>, a trend the UN hopes will continue globally for the benefit of all oceans and people.</p><p>In Israel, this push has successfully translated into investment in and innovation of global ports, shipping, logistics and offshore sectors. The "Startup Nation," as Israel is often called, has seen its maritime tech ecosystem grow "significantly" in recent years and expects that growth to "accelerate dramatically," <a href="https://itrade.gov.il/belgium-english/how-israel-is-becoming-a-port-of-call-for-maritime-innovation/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">iTrade</a> reported.</p><p>Driving this wave of momentum has been rising Israeli venture capital hub <a href="https://www.thedockinnovation.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">theDOCK</a>. Founded by Israeli Navy veterans in 2017, theDOCK works with early-stage companies in the maritime space to bring their solutions to market. The hub's pioneering efforts ignited Israel's maritime technology sector, and now, with their new fund, theDOCK is motivating these high-tech solutions to also address ESG criteria.</p><p>"While ESG has always been on theDOCK's agenda, this theme has become even more of a priority," Nir Gartzman, theDOCK's managing partner, told EcoWatch. "80 percent of the startups in our portfolio (for theDOCK's Navigator II fund) will have a primary or secondary contribution to environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria."</p><p>In a company presentation, theDOCK called contribution to the ESG agenda a "hot discussion topic" for traditional players in the space and their boards, many of whom are looking to adopt new technologies with a positive impact on the planet. The focus is on reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment, the presentation outlines. As such, theDOCK also explicitly screens candidate investments by ESG criteria as well.</p><p>Within the maritime space, environmental innovations could include measures like increased fuel and energy efficiency, better monitoring of potential pollution sources, improved waste and air emissions management and processing of marine debris/trash into reusable materials, theDOCK's presentation noted.</p>
theDOCK team includes (left to right) Michal Hendel-Sufa, Head of Alliances, Noa Schuman, CMO, Nir Gartzman, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, and Hannan Carmeli, Co-Founder & Managing Partner. Dudu Koren<p>theDOCK's own portfolio includes companies like Orca AI, which uses an intelligent collision avoidance system to reduce the probability of oil or fuel spills, AiDock, which eliminates the use of paper by automating the customs clearance process, and DockTech, which uses depth "crowdsourcing" data to map riverbeds in real-time and optimize cargo loading, thereby reducing trips and fuel usage while also avoiding groundings.</p><p>"Oceans are a big opportunity primarily because they are just that – big!" theDOCK's Chief Marketing Officer Noa Schuman summarized. "As such, the magnitude of their criticality to the global ecosystem, the magnitude of pollution risk and the steps needed to overcome those challenges – are all huge."</p><p>There is hope that this wave of interest and investment in environmentally-positive maritime technologies will accelerate the blue economy and ESG investing even further, in Israel and beyond.</p>
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