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Nexus hot news

Updated: Nov 17, 2023

The unabridged version of this newsletter is available here.


Climate Interactive/MIT will conduct a walk-thru webinar of interactive climate modeling on the "trillion trees" proposal by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to respond to climate change. Wednesday, August 9, at 12:00 pm ET.

Top Stories

Climate Change Threatens US Credit Rating: The sovereign credit rating of 59 countries, including the United States, China, India, and Canada could be downgraded in the next decade without significant emissions reductions, according to a study by the University of East Anglia (UEA) and the University of Cambridge. The researchers simulated the impact of climate change on sovereign credit ratings for 108 countries, creating the world’s first “climate-adjusted” ratings system, and found deferring green investments now will lead to higher borrowing costs in the future resulting in higher corporate debt. Furthermore, the researchers found current finance indicators such as Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) ratings and corporate disclosures do not provide an adequate insight into how climate change affects material risk since most do not have scientific underpinning. “Ratings agencies took a reputational hit for failing to anticipate the 2008 financial crisis. It is imperative that they are proactive in reflecting the much larger consequences of climate change now,” researcher Patrycja Klusak told the economic times. While smaller nations, many with lower credit scores, are likely to bear the most direct losses and damages of global warming, it was nations with strong credit ratings that would face more severe downgrades. The United States’ credit score, for example, could fall two notches potentially costing the U.S. Treasury (and thus American taxpayers) hundreds of billions of dollars. "There are no winners," Klusak added. (Reuters $, Economic Times $)

Power Line Burial (Or Not) Reflects Broader Inequities: Burying power lines is one of the most effective ways to prevent wildfires and improve overall resilience to extreme weather, but inequitable resource allocation means low-income California communities can’t afford to bury lines, a new study published Monday in Nature Energy finds. “Distribution grids in low-income communities are in a wildfire safety deficit,” Zhecheng Wang, lead author of the study, said in a statement. Since power companies routinely shut off above-ground power lines to avoid starting wildfires, low-income communities, also less likely to have solar panels and batteries or fossil fueled-power backup are more likely to lose electricity. (The Hill)

Drax Wood Pellets Pollute Mississippi Town While Withholding Electricity From Struggling UK: A yearslong battle between a small, majority-Black, low-income town in rural Mississippi and the Drax Group, a multi-billion dollar UK-based energy company, highlights a major pitfall in EU renewable energy policy, NBC reports. Drax opened a wood pellet manufacturing plant in Gloster, Mississippi, in 2016 under the guise of providing rural jobs locally and “renewable, carbon-neutral” sources of energy to meet the EU’s appetite for biomass. Drax has significantly degraded local air quality (amounting to millions of dollars worth of fines) without actually decreasing the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions. That’s because wood pellets are a decidedly poor fossil fuel replacement – producing numerous hazardous pollutants during the manufacturing process, and emitting 150% more carbon dioxide than coal per unit energy produced. Ultimately, Drax’s “clean energy” image is based on a carbon accounting loophole that fails to address the complexity of the carbon cycle and reality of the timber industry. “They claim to be the good guys, but the industry is one of the most polluting and most damaging to the environment and to communities,” Robert Musil, head of the Rachel Carson Council, told NBC. The EU's burning of wood pellets for electricity shares obvious parallels with the cotton and Atlantic slave trade, where primarily Black and poor communities in the American South are harmed for European benefit. In addition to the pollution of communities near its manufacturing facilities, new reporting from Bloomberg shows that while UK electricity prices soared last year, Drax cut back UK electricity production during a national electricity shortage to avoid repaying taxpayers hundreds of millions of pounds for exceeding profit limits on their subsidized operations there. (NBC; UK power hoarding: Bloomberg $; Drax denial: The Guardian)

Climate News

BUILDINGS: Sweaty Europe can kill two birds with one pump (Reuters)

FOOD: The climate wrecking ball striking food supply (Axios)

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CLIMATE DIPLOMACY: Amazon nations summit faces fault lines on oil, deforestation (Reuters, Climate Home), An Indigenous leader has inspired an Amazon city to grant personhood to an endangered river (AP)

SO, ABOUT LAST MONTH … : European scientists make it official. July was the hottest month on record by far (AP, CNBC, FT $, CBS, Politico EU, CNN, France24, Le Monde, The Times), 2023 is on track to be the hottest year on record (Washington Post $)

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THE KIDS THESE DAYS: Big Oil’s talent crisis: High salaries are no longer enough (Wall Street Journal $)

INFLATION REDUCTION ACT: Democrats trumpet climate bill passage anniversary (E&E $) [ ... ]

WHITE HOUSE: [ ... ] Biden heads to sweltering Southwest to tout climate work (E&E $) [ ... ]

CITIES AND STATES: As feds look to cut red tape, more local governments are curbing wind and solar (HuffPost) [ ... ]

IMPACTS: Mississippi River careens from floods to low water, threatening barge traffic (Wall Street Journal $), Record glacial flooding swept away two homes in Alaska’s capital (Washington Post $, Reuters, AP, Fox Weather) [ ... ] Bursting ice dam in Alaska highlights risks of glacial flooding around the globe (AP)

HEAT: Electricity rates in Texas skyrocket amid statewide heat wave (CBS) [ ... ] Intense heat wave baking south from Texas to Florida to last all week (Washington Post $)

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RENEWABLES: How a former oil guy is using fracking tech to boost geothermal energy (TIME, Tim Latimer interview) [ ... ]

OIL & GAS: Big Oil holds more federal leases than previously known — report (E&E $) [ ... ]

GRID: Microgrids are giving power to the people (New York Times $), Northeast grid operator weighs first EJ position (E&E $)

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The full roundup of this morning's climate and energy news is available here.

Analysis & opinion

  • Countries must unite around a new economy to save the Amazon (Context, Ani Dasgupta and M. Sanjayan op-ed)

  • Wildfires and Indigenous ways to stop them (Context, Michael Shank op-ed)

  • It’s lights out for incandescent bulbs. Did anyone even notice? (LA Times, Editorial Board $)

  • Home heat pumps deserve louder cheerleaders (Bloomberg, Lara Williams column $)

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The full roundup of this morning's climate and energy A&O is available here.

Denier Roundup

Big Oil Exploits Ukrainian Refugees For PR, Puts Them To Work For The Industry Funding The War

Would you want to work for a company that's profiting off destroying your future? What about an industry that's already destroying your present? Obviously not — but for a select few, it's not much of a choice.

On the first question, the fossil fuel industry is struggling to hire new talent as college graduates are apparently increasingly reluctant to seek employment with the industry destroying their (present and) future by profiting off of unconstrained carbon pollution.

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Read the full Denier Roundup for more!

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