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The externality of a commitment

the commitment is to fossil capitalism


You can’t spell “climate superfund” without “superfun”! Yesterday, the California State Senate’s environment commitee approved Sen. Caroline Menjivar’s (D-San Fernando Valley) Polluters Pay Climate Cost Recovery Act of 2024 (SB 1497). Her “climate superfund” legislation would require major fossil-fuel polluters who did business in California from 2000 to 2020 to pay into a multi-billion-dollar damages fund. The official take by analyst Eric Walters for the committee explains the logic:

“It seems fossil fuel companies were able to become some of the most profitable enterprises in human history in part by avoiding the externality of dealing with catastrophic global climate change. Given that, perhaps reclaiming a portion of those profits to do so is a desirable outcome.”

The bill, backed by a broad coalition of climate justice organizations, including the Climate Law Institute, Asian Pacific Environmental Network, and California Environmental Voters, now goes to the judiciary committee for a hearing on April 23.

The climate investor activist group Follow This is going after Shell to align its climate commitments with the Paris agreement after the oil giant weakened its climate pollution targets even as its share price increased by 11 percent this year. Yesterday, Shell announced its official opposition to the Follow This shareholder resolution, saying that staying the Paris course would be “more harmful than helpful.”

Not everyone is ganging up on fossil fuels, though.

I hate wind,Donald Trump ranted at a fundraising dinner with oil and gas industry executives organized at Mar-a-Lago last week by oil billionaire Harold Hamm, with guests from ExxonMobil, Continental Resources, Chesapeake Energy, Occidental Petroleum, and Politico Power Switch’s current sponsor Chevron. Trump committed to “do what he could to help the oil and gas industry” on “day one” if re-elected, promising to “open the Gulf of Mexico to drilling, speed up drilling permits, and reverse regulations aimed at deploying electric vehicles,” Maxine Joselow and Josh Dawsey report.

Bird of the Day — Clay-colored Sparrow, Kansas, yesterday What a sweetheart!

So who’s right about the desirable outcome?

Oh look, here come some pesky scientists to discuss the externality of dealing with catastrophic global climate change! In a new paper in Nature, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research scientists Maximilian KotzAnders Levermann and Leonie Wenz reassess “the economic commitment of climate change,” where the commitment is the climate damages baked in by the hundreds of billions of tons of fossil fuels already burned and those guaranteed to be burned in the next twenty-five years barring global societal collapse.

Kotz, Levermann, and Wenz find that the global economy will be crippled in both the Global South and North, just from the direct costs of rising heat and extreme weather, reaching a destruction of $38 trillion a year by 2050, or 20 percent of global output. As anyone with a brain can tell, the damages are already rapidly rising. National emergencies have been declared in Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, due to drought pushing tens of millions into acute hunger. Wildfire smoke contributes to thousands of deaths each year in the United States alone. Colossal floods are striking Kazakhstan, Tanzania, and Dubai.

“These damages already outweigh the mitigation costs required to limit global warming to 2 °C by sixfold over this near-term time frame,” Kotz, Levermann, and Wenz write.

If climate pollution isn’t halted by 2050, then the global costs would reach 60 percent or more by 2100.

So, one could say, climate action is more helpful than harmful. As Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) wrote in their call for a Green New Deal on Housing:

“We can imagine a better world, where housing is plentiful, affordable and sustainable — where all Americans have a place to call home, where public housing has community centers for our seniors, playgrounds for our children and energy sources that don’t fill up our lungs with pollution.”

oh fuck this is a really good hill i gotta die on this

California is cracking down on giant farms guzzling groundwater, Jake Bittle reports. The state water board on Tuesday placed the Tulare Lake Subbasin on probation for depleting the region’s aquifer, requiring industrial farmers like the J.G. Boswell Co. to install water meters and pay much higher rates for usage. “As we watch the farmers fight amongst each other, the ground is collapsing underneath their feet,” Fred Briones, a representative of the Big Valley Pomo tribe said in favor of the decision.

Worm Columbo: “Just worm more thing”

Three hearings of interest today, all in the House, all begun at 9 am:

Hearings on the Hill:

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