The News From Nuuk
Hot times in the Land of Leif, as we return to CERAWeek
PRESENTED BY THE PIED POAKA
It’s Friday afternoon, you should be having a good time instead of reading gloomy climate newsletters! There’s some cool climate-wonkery in the footnote, though, if you want to skip the flash floods and fossil fools, I won’t blame you.
The “free” climate newsletter Axios Generate is PRESENTED BY ENBRIDGE and the “free” Politico Power Shift is PRESENTED BY BP. In contrast, Hill Heat is sponsored and funded only by our paying subscribers, who make it possible for this resource to be available to all.
THE NEWS FROM NUUK
Greenland is melting under yet another record-shattering fossil-fueled heat wave. The ice-sheet-covered island is experiencing temperatures up to 50°F above normal. The capital city of Nuuk historically only reaches 10 degrees below freezing at the beginning of March; instead, on Saturday it was warmer (59°F) than Washington, D.C (58°F).
THE NEWS FROM TEXAS
You know the old saying: the Greenland ice cap isn’t going to melt itself. So let’s head back to Houston’s CERAWeek to check in on the people committed to getting the job done!
Kate Aronoff, who has been in Houston all week, filed a piece on why there was so much praise at the fossil-fuel fest for Biden’s touted-as-the-greatest-climate-legislation-in-history Inflation Reduction Act:
Oil and gas executives on stage this week approvingly called the IRA a “game-changer” and “framework for capital for years.” The IRA does contain some money to be dispensed to drillers. But the industry’s celebration of the IRA seems to be more about what this piece of legislation, passed only via painful compromise, symbolizes: the end—for now—of the potential for the U.S. to pass climate policy that will penalize the fossil fuel industry. . .
While Biden on Thursday proposed eliminating fossil fuel subsidies as a balm to his reelection base, he did so as part of a budget he knows will never pass. For now, when it comes to the essentials, the White House and the fossil fuel industry seem to be broadly on the same page.
BP CEO Bernard Looney’s 2022 compensation more than doubled to around $12 million as the company’s carbon footprint of 339 million tons of CO2 remained unchanged.
Jennifer Dlouhy reports that unnamed Biden administration officials held a secret meeting with oil companies at CERAWeek on establishing criteria for new, insane effort to greenwash fracked gas as “responsibly sourced” if it is certified somehow to not be too leaky:
Biden administration officials met Thursday with US energy executives about a potential framework to govern the certification of so-called responsibly sourced natural gas.
Energy Department officials discussed their plan with gas producers, exporters and third-party methane assessors during a 90-minute closed-door meeting on the sidelines of the CERAWeek by S&P Global conference in Houston. The session was described by multiple participants who asked not to be identified because it was private.
Participants and observers included representatives from ConocoPhillips, EQT Corp., Project Canary, Sempra Infrastructure, various European countries, and the United Arab Emirates, which is due to host the COP28 UN climate summit in November.
After sucking up to the oil and gas industry at CERAWeek on Wednesday, Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm traipsed over to the South By Southwest festival in Austin to tout her climate-justice optimism today. Activists with Texas Campaign for the Environment were on the ground to call out Granholm’s hypocrisy.
Svitlana Romanko, the Ukrainian climate activist barred from CERAWeek, and Bill McKibben write in the Houston Chronicle about the “party vibe” at the oil confab even as Europe fights to emerge from the grip of fossil fuels:
To the Exxons of the world, the war in Ukraine presented a perfect opportunity for two reasons. One, it drove the price of gas and oil sky-high for a while, locking in record profits. And two, they argued the industry should be allowed to build new gas infrastructure, purportedly to ship gas to Europe to make up for the supply that Russia had been providing. Big Oil’s conduct is beyond hypocritical, of course — these companies helped Vladimir Putin build up the oil and gas regime that is funding his war against Ukraine. . .
Europe is leading the world in demonstrating that one of the weaknesses of relying on finite fossil fuel resources is that the people who control those resources inevitably exert leverage — both energy and geopolitical. In contrast, the sun and wind are the opposite of scarce, meaning they support democracy and geopolitical stability. . . .
The best possible memorial to the brave people of Ukraine would be to act on the lesson their suffering offers the world. Fossil fuels fund the chaos and crisis; renewable energy provides energy and geopolitical security and a livable planet.
The week before, the oil-backed Texas Public Policy Foundation held its summit in Austin. Molly Taft watched the panel on new attacks on responsible investing so you don’t have to.
During a panel discussion last week at the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s annual summit—creatively titled “ESG = Everyone’s Suffering Guaranteed” (lol, you guys! Lol!)—Texas State Sen. Bryan Hughes lifted the curtain on upcoming legislation that seemed to mimic the law passed in 2021 forbidding Texas from doing business with financial institutions that have pro-climate policies. This time, Hughes said, the legislature would target insurance companies that have similar policies.
NEWS FROM SOME OTHER PLACES
CALIFORNIA: Gov. Gavin Newson has declared a state of emergency as another round of extreme flooding rain and snow pummels California; a worker was killed this morning when a roof collapsed under the rains in Oakland.
WASHINGTON, D.C.: Climate denier Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Ohio) chaired a Financial Services subcommittee hearing on increasing flood insurance coverage; the discussion by the all-male panel of witnesses was pretty reasonable, though the Republican hearing memo amusingly avoided mentioning climate change, and there was a lot of dancing around how the costs of floods, like those hitting California right now, are growing without bound.
UNITED KINGDOM: “The BBC has decided not to broadcast an episode of Sir David Attenborough’s flagship new series on British wildlife because of fears its themes of the destruction of nature would risk a backlash from Tory politicians and the rightwing press, the Guardian has been told.”
NEW YORK: On Tuesday, Commodity Futures Trading Commission commissioner Christy Goldsmith Romero spoke before the wild folks at the International Swaps and Derivatives Association’s ESG Forum in New York City with a strong message: “Today, it is well established that climate change poses significant financial risk.” She outlined an aggressive agenda for the CFTC, including prosecuting greenwashing claims as fraud.
Hearings on the Hill:
9 AM: House Financial Services
Housing and Insurance
How Do We Encourage Greater Flood Insurance Coverage in America?
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Though I’ve written before about the IRA’s flaws, the necessary work continues by climate advocates to make the IRA’s climate investments count. Some good examples are the Climate Cabinet’s new guide on the IRA’s many programs for municipal governments and public power utilities, and GridLab and Center for Biological Diversity’s new report on how the Tennessee Valley Authority can use the IRA to lead the way on renewable energy.