COPs and Robber Barons

Have you checked which local billionaires are subverting democracy where you live?


Today is the first day of COP27.

The 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27) has begun in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. In preparation for the COP, the World Meteorological Organization published its latest State of the Global Climate report, with the news that the past eight years are the hottest in recorded history. “Sea level rise accelerates, European glacier melt shatters records, extreme weather causes devastation.”

In his remarks today, Al Gore begged the assembled world leaders to end “this culture of death.” U.N. Secretary General António Guterres spoke about the devastating floods in Pakistan, warning that humanity is on the “highway to climate hell with our foot still on the accelerator.”

The most contentious arguments at the conference will be over “loss and damage”—whether wealthy nations will offer any meaningful aid to poorer nations as their infrastructure collapses in climate disaster after climate disaster. The total dollar amounts needed for an international climate adaptation fund are surprisingly low, given the scope of the challenge: on the order of $100 billion a year.

But the United States government has been one of the most averse to action. Last week, climate envoy John Kerry opened the door to a productive negotiation, a reversal from his stance of opposition in September.

You can read live feeds of COP27 coverage from The Guardian, BBC News, Washington Post, New York Times, Bloomberg Green, and Reuters, featuring everyone from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salaman to French president Emmanuel Macron.

Tomorrow is Election Day in the United States.

Billionaire Ronald Lauder is destroying New York, with the help of fossil-fuel companies. Billionaire Richard Uihlein is destroying Wisconsin. Billionaire Peter Thiel is destroying Arizona and Ohio. Billionaire Jeff Yass is destroying Pennsylvania and Kentucky. Billionaire Richard Kurtz is destroying Pennsylvania from his homes in Palm Beach and New Jersey. Billionaire Timothy Mellon is destroying Colorado. Billionaire Charles Koch is destroying Minnesota.

Twenty-four hours after polls close in Florida, Hurricane Nicole will strike, bringing dangerous winds and massive flooding from storm surge and intense rainfall to the state, still reeling from Hurricane Ian. Republican Sen. Marco Rubio and Gov. Ron DeSantis, running for re-election, are climate deniers.

Climate hawk Jamie McLeod-Skinner is running an effective, populist campaign to succeed the toxic Democrat Kurt Schrader in Oregon’s Fifth Congressional District, but national Republicans are spending big to defeat her, Austin Ahlman reports.

More newsletter, after the jump.

The ice of Europe is “a dead man walking,” Norwegian archaeologist Lars Holger Pilo told the Washington Post’s Rick Noack. In fact, every glacier in Yosemite National Park, the Dolomites, and the entire continent of Africa are now doomed to extinction thanks to the hundreds of billions of tons of fossil carbon added to the atmosphere. One-third of the world’s glaciers in UN World Heritage sites will disappear by 2050—and the rest will only survive with rapid elimination of the burning of fossil fuels.

In a major lifeboat-ethics-adjacent two-part essay for the New York Times Magazine, David Wallace-Wells describes the coming, nigh-unstoppable collapse of the world’s coral reefs thusly:

“You may think of this merely as a blow to scuba tourism — but in fact, food harvested directly from corals supplies protein for hundreds of millions of people today.”

After all, it’s practically a truism that there are only two ways to comprehend the incomprehensible richness of life on Earth: as a venue for tourism or a source of protein.

Just 40 fossil fuel companies account for 47 percent of the methane pollution from the world’s energy sector, according to a new analysis by Global Energy Monitor. They looked at the top state-owned and investor-owned oil and gas companies, as well as coal companies. Fun to think about when you see their ads in the New York Times, Politico, Washington Post, Axios, Semafor, etc. etc.!

The Environmental Protection Agency is letting power companies implement coal-ash regulations on themselves. Guess what! They’re not doing any clean-up. James Bruggers has the dirty details.

The state of Arizona has given away billions of gallons of groundwater to the Saudi firm Fodomonte for almost nothing.

Top corporations like Procter & Gamble, Cisco, Intel, Microsoft, and Starbucks are relying on clean-energy credits to claim massive cuts in their carbon footprint that are pure hogwash, Bloomberg’s Ben Elgin and Sinduja Rangarajan find. Scientists are begging the certifying organization Science Based Targets Initiative to tighten its standards, so far to no avail.

And now, the good guys:

John Beard is fighting ExxonMobil and Sempra’s plans to build “two multibillion-dollar liquefied natural gas plants in his predominantly Black and Hispanic coastal town” of Port Arthur, Texas.

“These companies, no matter what they say, are basically sacrificing communities of color in order to get wealthier, more affluent communities cheap fossil fuels.”

Congratulations to the recipients of the 2022 Rachel’s Network Catalyst Awards, which honor women leaders of color for their commitment to a healthy planet. Winners include Louisiana’s Colette Pichon Battle and Cherri Foytlin, Fatuma Emmad of Denver, and Zulene Mayfield and Ciara Williams of Chester, Pa.

Agustín Carbó, the first chairman of the Puerto Rico Energy Commission and currently at the Environmental Defense Fund, will serve as director of the Puerto Rico Grid Modernization and Recovery Team. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm announced the appointment last week in her remarks at the Solar and Energy Storage Association of Puerto Rico Summit.

Climate Action Today:

  • COP27, Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt

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