'Finally': In Potential Nod To Biden Win, Federal Reserve Applies To Join Climate Network for Central Banks
By Jessica Corbett
In a decision seen by some as a subtle acknowledgement of President-elect Joe Biden's victory even as President Donald Trump still refuses to concede, the Federal Reserve has applied to join what Bloomberg called "the climate change club for central banks," a group that requires participation in the Paris climate agreement.
"We have requested membership. I expect that it will be granted," Fed Vice Chair for Supervision Randal Quarles said during a Senate Banking Committee hearing Tuesday, Bloomberg reported. Quarles added that the Fed may become a member of the Network for Greening the Financial System (NGFS) before its annual meeting in April.
Launched in late 2017, the NGFS sets out to bolster the world's efforts to meet the goals of the Paris agreement and "to enhance the role of the financial system to manage risks and to mobilize capital for green and low-carbon investments in the broader context of environmentally sustainable development," according to its website.
The primary goal of the Paris deal, which took effect in 2016, is to "strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius."
Just over a year ago, the Trump administration began the one-year process of withdrawing the United States from the agreement; the U.S. exit became official last week, the day after the general election. While Biden has vowed to rejoin the deal, progressives around the world are urging him to go far beyond that and serve as a #ClimatePresident.
Bloomberg's Akshat Rathi suggested on Twitter Wednesday that by seeking NGFS membership, "the Fed tacitly accepts that Biden has won the presidency."
Um... the Fed tacitly accepts that Biden has won the presidency. Fed has requested membership of the NGFS, which… https://t.co/lO1Z0l6gQU— Akshat Rathi (@Akshat Rathi)1605097903.0
Although Biden's win may be a factor, earlier this year, before the U.S. officially ditched the Paris agreement, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell suggested the country could join the NGFS, Newsweek noted Wednesday.
"We have been looking at joining in one form or another and talking to them about that," Powell said in late January. "We probably will do that at some point."
According to Newsweek:
Powell's remarks led to some speculation the Trump administration might alter its approach to climate change, with the Financial Times reporting on January 31 that some at the Fed had been privately pushing for membership of the banking group.
"The Fed's interest is another sign of the importance of the work of the NGFS," Bank of France governor François Villeroy de Galhau told the FT at the time. "It's a coalition of the willing. Climate risk is clearly a part of financial risk."
Quarles' comments about NGFS membership came a day after the Fed formally acknowledged for the first time that climate change potentially threatens the stability of the financial system and urged banks "to have systems in place that appropriately identify, measure, control, and monitor all of their material risks, which for many banks are likely to extend to climate risks."
"The Federal Reserve is evaluating and investing in ways to deepen its understanding of the full scope of implications of climate change for markets, financial exposures, and interconnections between markets and financial institutions," the central bank said in its semiannual report on financial stability.
Politico pointed out that the report followed related comments by Powell and was welcomed by another key leader at the Fed:
Powell said last week that the "science and art" of incorporating climate change into financial regulation is new but that the Fed is "very actively in the early stages" of getting up to speed and working with officials around the world.
"I welcome the introduction of climate" into the semiannual report, Fed Governor Lael Brainard, who heads the central bank's financial stability committee, said in a statement. "A lack of clarity about true exposures to specific climate risks for real and financial assets, coupled with differing assessments about the sizes and timing of these risks, can create vulnerabilities to abrupt repricing events."
Alan Zibel, research director of Public Citizen's Corporate Presidency Project, which focuses on corporate influence and conflicts of interest in the Trump administration, also praised the Fed's inclusion of climate risk in the analysis but noted that it "is a latecomer to this party and is still propping up the oil industry (and other giant corps) through huge purchases of debt."
Public Citizen, Friends of the Earth, and BailoutWatch released a report in late September titled Big Oil's $100 Billion Bender that showed "how the U.S. government provided a safety net for the flagging fossil fuel industry." The report said the Fed's emergency financing during the Covid-19 pandemic is "forestalling the demise of an industry that has always relied on government largesse."
Last month, as Common Dreams reported, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) introduced legislation to prevent banks and international financial institutions from financing fossil fuels. David Arkush, director of Public Citizen's Climate Program, declared that he "is showing real leadership by introducing the first-ever bills to cut the money pipeline fueling the climate crisis."
When unveiling the pair of bills, the senator referenced a September report from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission warning that the climate emergency endangers the U.S. financial system. In response to the report, Arkush said that "U.S. financial regulators have the authority to help mitigate the climate crisis, and they need to use it. The best way to protect anything from climate change, whether people in wildfire or flood zones or giant banks, is to stop climate change."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
- Will We Be Able to Reverse Trump's Climate Damage? - EcoWatch ›
- Former Federal Reserve Governor Rebukes Fed for Fossil Fuel Bail ... ›
As bitcoin's fortunes and prominence rise, so do concerns about its environmental impact.
- 15 Top Conservation Issues of 2021 Include Big Threats, Potential ... ›
- How Blockchain Could Boost Clean Energy - EcoWatch ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By David Drake and Jeffrey York
The Research Brief is a short take about interesting academic work.
The Big Idea
People often point to plunging natural gas prices as the reason U.S. coal-fired power plants have been shutting down at a faster pace in recent years. However, new research shows two other forces had a much larger effect: federal regulation and a well-funded activist campaign that launched in 2011 with the goal of ending coal power.
- Major Milestone: More than 100,000 MW Worth of Coal-Fired Power ... ›
- Coal Will Not Bring Appalachia Back to Life, But Tech and ... ›
- Renewables Beat Coal in the U.S. for the First Time This April ... ›
By Gwen Ranniger
Fertility issues are on the rise, and new literature points to ways that your environment may be part of the problem. We've rounded up some changes you can make in your life to promote a healthy reproductive system.
Infertility and Environmental Health: The Facts<ul> <li>Sperm count is declining steeply, significantly, and continuously in Western countries, with no signs of tapering off. Erectile dysfunction is on the rise, and women are facing increasing rates of miscarriage and difficulty conceiving.</li><li>Why? A huge factor is our environmental health. Hormones (particularly testosterone and estrogen) are what make reproductive function possible, and our hormones are increasingly being negatively affected by harmful, endocrine-disrupting chemicals commonplace in the modern world—in our homes, foods, and lifestyles.</li></ul>
What You Can Do About It<p>It should be noted that infertility can be caused by any number of factors, including medical conditions that cannot be solved with a simple change at home.</p><p><em>If you or a loved one are struggling with infertility, our hearts and sympathies are with you. Your pain is validated and we hope you receive answers to your struggles.</em></p><p>Read on to discover our tips to restore or improve reproductive health by removing harmful habits and chemicals from your environment.</p>
Edit Your Health<ul><li>If you smoke, quit! Smoking is toxic, period. If someone in your household smokes, urge them to quit or institute a no-smoking ban in the house. It is just as important to avoid secondhand smoke.</li><li>Maintain a healthy weight. Make sure your caloric intake is right for your body and strive for moderate exercise.</li><li>Eat cleanly! Focus on whole foods and less processed meals and snacks. Studies have found that eating a Mediterranean-style diet is linked to increased fertility.</li><li>Minimize negative/constant stress—or find ways to manage it. Hobbies such as meditation or yoga that encourage practiced breathing are great options to reduce the physical toll of stress.</li></ul>
Edit Your Home<p>We spend a lot of time in our homes—and care that what we bring into them will not harm us. You may not be aware that many commonly found household items are sources of harmful, endocrine-disrupting compounds. Read on to find steps you can take—and replacements you should make—in your home.</p><p><strong>In the Kitchen</strong></p><ul> <li>Buy organic, fresh, unprocessed foods whenever possible. <a href="https://www.ehn.org/clean-grocery-shopping-guide-2648563801.html" target="_blank">Read our grocery shopping guide for more tips about food.</a></li><li>Switch to glass, ceramics, or stainless steel for food storage: plastics often contain endocrine-disrupting chemicals that affect fertility. <a href="https://www.ehn.org/bpa-pollution-2645493129.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Learn more about the dangers of plastic here.</a></li><li>Ban plastic from the microwave. If you have a plastic splatter cover, use paper towel, parchment paper, or an upside-down plate instead.</li><li>Upgrade your cookware: non-stick may make life easier, but it is made with unsafe chemical compounds that seep into your food. Cast-iron and stainless steel are great alternatives.</li><li>Filter tap water. Glass filter pitchers are an inexpensive solution; if you want to invest you may opt for an under-the-sink filter.</li><li>Check your cleaning products—many mainstream products are full of unsafe chemicals. <a href="https://www.ehn.org/how-to-shop-for-cleaning-products-while-avoiding-toxics-2648130273.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Check out our guide to safe cleaning products for more info</a>.</li></ul><p><strong>In the Bathroom </strong></p><ul> <li>Check the labels on your bathroom products: <em>fragrance-free, paraben-free, phthalate-free</em> and organic labels are all great signs. You can also scan the ingredients lists for red-flag chemicals such as: triclosan, parabens, and dibutyl phthalate. Use the <a href="https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/" target="_blank">EWG Skin Deep database</a> to vet your personal products.</li><li>Ditch the vinyl shower curtain—that new shower curtain smell is chemical-off gassing. Choose a cotton or linen based curtain instead.</li><li>Banish air fresheners—use natural fresheners (an open window, baking soda, essential oils) instead.</li></ul><p><strong>Everywhere Else</strong></p><ul><li>Remove wall-to-wall carpet. If you've been considering wood or tile, here's your sign: many synthetic carpets can emit harmful chemicals for years. If you want a rug, choose wool or plant materials such as jute or sisal.</li><li>Prevent dust build-up. Dust can absorb chemicals in the air and keep them lingering in your home. Vacuum rugs and wipe furniture, trim, windowsills, fans, TVs, etc. Make sure to have a window open while you're cleaning!</li><li>Leave shoes at the door! When you wear your shoes throughout the house, you're tracking in all kinds of chemicals. If you like wearing shoes inside, consider a dedicated pair of "indoor shoes" or slippers.</li><li>Clean out your closet—use cedar chips or lavender sachets instead of mothballs, and use "green" dry-cleaning services over traditional methods. If that isn't possible, let the clothes air out outside or in your garage for a day before putting them back in your closet.</li><li>Say no to plastic bags!</li><li>We asked 22 endocrinologists what products they use - and steer clear of—in their homes. <a href="https://www.ehn.org/nontoxic-products-2648564261.html" target="_blank">Check out their responses here</a>.</li></ul>
Learn More<ul><li>For more information and action steps, be sure to check out <em>Count Down: How Our Modern World Is Threatening Sperm Counts, Altering Male and Female Reproductive Development, and Imperiling the Future of the Human Race</em> by EHS adjunct scientist Shanna Swan, PhD: <a href="https://www.shannaswan.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">available for purchase here.</a></li><li><a href="https://www.ehn.org/st/Subscribe_to_Above_The_Fold" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Sign up for our Above the Fold Newsletter </a>to stay up to date about impacts on the environment and your health.</li></ul>
The irony hit Katherine Kehrli, the associate dean of Seattle Culinary Academy, when one of the COVID-19 pandemic's successive waves of closures flattened restaurants: Many of her culinary students were themselves food insecure. She saw cooks, bakers, and chefs-in-training lose the often-multiple jobs that they needed simply to eat.