The newsletter for independent thinkers on carbon and climate.
(artist: Chris Precht)
Issue No. 106
Welcome to the latest issue of Carbon Creed - a curated newsletter for independent thinkers on carbon and climate.
Biden offers to shrink build back better, but not climate.
Historic climate legislation may still have a chance. Though the original Build Back Better Act is now dead, Congress still may have a shot at passing a bill to fund $550 billion for implementing clean energy incentives, funding electric vehicles and charging stations, instituting a fee on methane pollution, and helping the most vulnerable communities facing climate disasters.
On the eve of his one-year anniversary as president, Biden laid out one last path forward to breaking the Senate stalemate on the original bill. “It’s clear to me ... that we’re going to have to probably break it up,” Biden told reporters at a press conference Wednesday. “I’ve been talking to a number of my colleagues on the Hill — I think it’s clear that we would be able to get support for the $500-plus billion for energy and the environmental issues that are there.”
There’s still more wrangling ahead to get Joe Manchin’s support, but the Senate is up against a clock that’s ticking down until the midterms. The Senate doesn’t have forever to figure this out or start from scratch, because it also has to confirm nominees to the administration and avert a government shutdown in February.
Biden suggested Democrats could reach a deal with Manchin and the other holdout, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), with a slimmed-down version of Build Back Better, possibly by cutting back on the child tax credit and free community college. Importantly, Biden said that even with concessions to Manchin, they could preserve the climate provisions. Then Democrats might take another shot at passing these other priorities later this year.
For once, there’s surprising agreement from Democratic leaders that the climate priorities won’t be what are sacrificed in any dealmaking ahead. Biden has been firm on that, and Manchin himself said a few weeks ago, “The climate thing is one that we probably can come to an agreement much easier than anything else. There’s a lot of good things in there.”
We’ll keep you posted on the latest carbon policy and market insights as they happen.
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Words that will inspire you…
“Without a word from the Sky, the four seasons rotate (and thus all things continue to change), and without utterance from the Earth, all life continues to be born, grow and flourish.”
~ Li Bai (Tang Dynasty poet, circa 734CE)
By Katie Worth
Katie Worth is an Emmy and Edward R. Murrow award-winning investigative journalist, who was most recently with the PBS series “Frontline.” Her latest book is “Miseducation: How Climate Change is Taught in America.” The book charts how climate change is (and isn’t) being taught to children all over the country.
Climate change is likely to color every part of young people’s lives — from the jobs they hold to where they call home. And yet, despite the rise and importance of young climate activists, climate change isn’t even being taught in many U.S. schools.
Perhaps worse, some teachers are providing misleading, outdated or false information. That’s what journalist Katie Worth found when researching Miseducation. Sometimes, she learned, teachers don’t have the right training or resources to teach climate change. But often, the roots of the problem are much more troubling.
Worth reviewed scores of textbooks, built a 50-state database, and traveled to a dozen communities to talk to children and teachers about what is being taught, and found a red-blue divide in climate education. More than one-third of young adults believe that climate change is not man-made, and science instructors are being contradicted by history teachers who tell children not to worry about it.
Just more solid evidence of the politicization of everything.
Creed Comments: Worth has penned a thorough report on the state of science education in America, especially regarding climate change. There are roughly 50 million children enrolled in 100,000 public schools across the country, taught by 3 million teachers—and there are no national standards. The result, not surprisingly, is a sharp red-blue divide. The political divide on climate change science must cease now.
Exxon Takes the Net Zero Pledge
Exxon Mobil Corp. said it has set a goal to reduce or offset greenhouse-gas emissions from its operations to zero by 2050, as investor and public pressure mounts on oil producers to respond to climate change.
The oil giant said Tuesday it had developed detailed emission-reduction plans for major facilities and assets and can profitably navigate the nascent transition to greener energy sources. In a bruising proxy fight last year, an activist hedge fund elected three new members to the company’s board after criticizing its transition strategy.
Exxon lost three seats on its board of directors at its annual shareholder meeting last May to the hedge fund Engine No. 1, which argued that the energy company needs to act faster to remake itself and invest in clean energy. After the defeat, Exxon’s board began serious consideration of a net-zero commitment, The Wall Street Journal previously reported.
With Exxon’s announcement, all of the largest Western oil companies have now made so-called net-zero commitments to reduce or offset greenhouse-gas emissions. BP PLC and Royal Dutch Shell PLC did so in 2020, and in time the largest U.S. oil companies followed suit. ChevronCorp. said in October it had set a net-zero aspiration.
There is no standard definition for net zero, and specifics vary company to company, which has led some to dismiss the pledges as exercises in image management.
Generally a company sets a goal of shrinking its carbon footprint to neutral in the future, by reducing emissions and using tools such as carbon offsets to counterbalance those that continue. Some analysts say there aren’t enough carbon offsets to allow every company to achieve its goal, and that without significant technological advances, net zero is implausible for many.
Environmental groups and others have criticized oil companies for not pledging to zero out greenhouse gases from their products, known as “scope 3” emissions. Some companies have argued that they can’t be held responsible for reducing consumer use of gasoline and other fuels.
BP, Shell and other companies have set targets to cut emissions from the end-use of their products, and Exxon stands out among its peers for not making a similar commitment, according to Will Scargill, an analyst at GlobalData, an analytics firm. The emissions from the fossil fuels Exxon produces are at least five times as large as those from its direct operations, and will increase by around 15% over the next five years, GlobalData estimates.
Exxon has said for years that it supports the goals of the Paris climate agreement, an international accord that aims to limit the increase in the global average temperature to less than 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels and pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees. But it has previously stopped short of a net-zero pledge.
[This post was adapted from the original written by By Christopher M. Matthews for the Wall Street Journal].
Creed Comments: Well, this was a surprise. This week, Exxon became the final major petroleum company to publicly pledge to net zero carbon emissions. At first I was very skeptical: Exxon’s new goal doesn’t cover emissions from use of its products, such as gasoline and other fuels made from refined oil, or natural gas burned in homes, which make up most of the emissions connected to the company. It also doesn’t apply to oil fields or other assets it is invested in but doesn’t operate.
Then, I remembered the victory accomplished in by the Engine No. 1 board coup. That helped me put this pledge into context - it is merely the first of many steps to decarbonize what was once the most powerful energy company on the planet. I trust the strategic abilities of people like Andy Karsner, one of the new directors on the Exxon Board. If they can transform Exxon, we have a shot at halting climate change.
The Keeling Curve a daily record of global atmospheric CO2 concentration.
Congressional Policy Tracker a summary of current federal energy legislation.
Click Clean your favorite apps and tech company clean power rankings.
Advancing Inclusion Through Clean Energy Jobs a report by the Brookings Institute.
Currents a podcast featuring in-depth discussions with experts on clean energy and sustainability, published by Norton Rose Fulbright.
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