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"We can see this freight train coming"

History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce, third as net-zero pledges


While it’s good that New York is heading towards decarbonizing its electric grid, the state’s real carbon footprint comes from being the global economy’s financial headquarters. As a new report from LittleSis and the Private Equity Stakeholder Project reveals, Wall Street billionaires invest in dirty pipelines, coal plants, and fracking companies around the world.

Private equity firms have created a class of ultra-wealthy men who sit at the helm of large, secretive Wall Street enterprises that continue to invest in destructive fossil fuels despite the climate crisis.

Instead of being recognized as polluters profiteering from planetary destruction, New York carbon barons like David M. Rubenstein, Marc Rowan, Leon Black, Adebayo Ogunlesi, Howard Marks, Chip Kaye, Timothy Geithner, and David M. Leuschen “hold prestigious trusteeships at elite universities and cultural institutions. Buildings are named after them. They own professional sports franchises. They are fêted and celebrated by polite society.”

The Guardian’s Nina Lakhani interviewed Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who reminded us why Wall Street loves her:

“By plowing money into dirty coal plants, offshore drilling and deforestation, private equity threatens to undermine our hard work to tackle the climate crisis and advance environmental justice. It’s just another page from private equity’s standard playbook: boost short-term profits at the expense of the long-term wellbeing of communities.”

Importantly, the report also notes that private equity billionaires get their money from workers—specifically union and government pension funds.

History repeats itself.—The robber barons of the Middle Ages, and the robber barons of 1889, and the robber barons of to-day.

Of course, these carbon barons are not the only ones burning the planet. Another new report finds that “commercial banks channeled over $1.5 trillion to the coal industry between January 2019 and November 2021,” with just a dozen banks doing half of the business. The top five banks—three Japanese banks Mizuho Financial, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial and SMBC Group, Barclays from the UK and Citigroup from the US—are all, laughably, members of the Net-Zero Banking Alliance. As Urgewald’s Katrin Ganswindt explains:

“Banks like to argue that they want to help their coal clients transition [away from coal], but the reality is that almost none of these companies are transitioning. And they have little incentive to do so as long as bankers continue writing them blank checks.”

Led by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), the Republicans on the Senate Banking Committee boycotted yesterday’s vote on Biden’s Fed nominees in order to block climate hawk Sarah Bloom Raskin from being approved.

Solar financing is dominated by two companies—JPMorgan and Bank of America supply 50 percent of the solar tax equity market.

A massive, fossil-fueled winter storm is sweeping across the country, with heavy snow on the cold side and tornadoes and flooding rain on the hot side. Nebraskan experts baffled why climate disasters are on the increase.

A multi-agency group led by NOAA has released the first Sea Level Rise Technical Report since 2017,1 and we can expect at least a foot of sea level rise in the next thirty years. The first foot of rising seas thanks to global warming took one hundred years. So I guess candidate Barack Obama was wrong and president Barack Obama was right.

JERBS: The Pisces Foundation is hiring a water program associate ($70K-$80K) in their San Francisco office. The collaborates-with-Big-Oil Nature Conservancy is looking for a senior policy associate for wildfire resilience in their Alexandria office (salary not listed). Spark Climate Solutions is hiring a climate solutions scientist (salary not listed).

Our close quote today comes from University of Wisconsin-Madison geoscientist Andrea Dutton, on the accelerating rise of the oceans:

We can see this freight train coming from more than a mile away. The question is whether we continue to let houses slide into the ocean.”

Hearings on the Hill:

1. Funny how no updates were published during the Trump administration.

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