Biden unveils climate risk finance plan, "The Nutmeg's Curse" and Torched Earth

The newsletter for independent thinkers on carbon and climate.

(source: SMP)

Issue No. 94

Welcome to the latest issue of Carbon Creed - a curated newsletter for independent thinkers on carbon and climate.

White House unveils climate risk finance road map.


The White House published a report on Friday outlining projects to measure and address the risks that climate change poses to Americans and the economy, including programs to better incorporate climate threats into federal lending programs and budgeting processes.

The report highlights government-wide efforts to address finance innovations at a key moment, weeks before President Joe Biden participates in the Oct. 31-Nov. 12 COP26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland.

"We have more work to do, but this is a critical first step in our efforts to address the systemic threat that climate change poses to our economy, our workers and our families as well as our retirees," White House domestic climate change adviser Gina McCarthy.


Of special interest to Creed readers is the proposal to incorporate climate-related financial risk into federal lending and underwriting, including:

  • The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Treasury Department are each working to enhance their federal underwriting and lending program standards to better address the climate-related financial risks to their loan portfolios, while ensuring the safety and security of communities most impacted by climate change.

  • HUD is working to meet the challenges that climate change poses to American homes, beginning by identifying options to incorporate climate-related considerations into the origination of single-family mortgages.

  • The VA, which has nearly $913 billion in loan volume outstanding to U.S. Veterans, is conducting a review of climate-related impacts to its home loan benefit program.

  • USDA is addressing climate risk in its own single-family guaranteed loan programs, with the goal of applying lessons learned across its entire range of loan programs.  

With these policy moves, the Biden Administration could catalyze residential decarbonization faster than any policy proposal under consideration (besides a carbon fee and dividend). I have long advocated that federal tax deductions for clean technology home improvements and transportation expenditures (solar, batteries, electric vehicles and chargers, energy efficiency, etc.) are a game changer. This move would give Biden the carbon legacy he seeks.

We’ll keep you posted on the latest carbon policy and market insights as they happen. 

If you have an opinion on any topic covered in this newsletter, please feel free to send me an email at mcleodwl@carboncreed.com. 

Thank you for your viewpoint and the value of your time.

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QUOTES

Climate quotes and sayings that will inspire you

(source: ASU)

“Public discourse about climate change has resulted in the erroneous idea that it's all about cost, burden and sacrifice. If the math was correct, everyone would see it's about profit, jobs and competitive advantage.” - Amory Lovins, Scientist, Writer

“On climate change, we often don't fully appreciate that it is a problem [now]. We think it is a problem waiting to happen.” - Kofi Annan, fmr. U.N. Secretary-General

“I think any thinking person should be worried about climate change.” - Tommy Lee Jones, Actor


BOOKS

The Nutmeg’s Curse

Parables for a Planet in Crisis

By Amitav Ghosh


A powerful work of history, essay, testimony, and polemic, Amitav Ghosh’s new book traces our contemporary planetary crisis back to the discovery of the New World and the sea route to the Indian Ocean. The Nutmeg’s Curse argues that the dynamics of climate change today are rooted in a centuries-old geopolitical order constructed by Western colonialism. At the center of Ghosh’s narrative is the now-ubiquitous spice nutmeg. The history of the nutmeg is one of conquest and exploitation—of both human life and the natural environment. In Ghosh’s hands, the story of the nutmeg becomes a parable for our environmental crisis, revealing the ways human history has always been entangled with earthly materials such as spices, tea, sugarcane, opium, and fossil fuels. Our crisis, he shows, is ultimately the result of a mechanistic view of the earth, where nature exists only as a resource for humans to use for our own ends, rather than a force of its own, full of agency and meaning.

Writing against the backdrop of the global pandemic, Ghosh frames these historical stories in a way that connects our shared colonial histories with the deep inequality we see around us today. By interweaving discussions on everything from the global history of the oil trade to the migrant crisis and the animist spirituality of Indigenous communities around the world, The Nutmeg’s Curse offers a sharp critique of Western society and speaks to the profoundly remarkable ways in which human history is shaped by non-human forces.

Creed Comments: In this ambitious successor to The Great Derangement, acclaimed writer Amitav Ghosh connects the origins of our contemporary climate crisis to colonialism’s exploitation of human life and the natural environment. Derangement was a masterpiece, and I cannot praise his work in that classic enough. Nutmeg appears to draw its stories from the climate justice narrative, which has really found its voice in recent years. It seems appropriate to dig into this one over the holidays.


CONSUMERISM

“Torched Earth” beer tastes like climate change

The New Belgium brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado, is famous for its Fat Tire ale and sizable supply of suds. But recently, CEO Steve Fechheimer decided to craft a new beer, created to highlight how climate change threatens breweries.  

"It's not usually good business to make a bad product," Fechheimer told CBS News senior national and environmental correspondent Ben Tracy.  

His brewmaster, Dave Glor, said he was confused when he was asked to make the beer because he's "not usually asked to make bad-tasting beers." 

The beer is called "Torched Earth," and Fechheimer said the drink "tastes like eating a Band-Aid." New Belgium doesn't really want consumers to buy the drink, but wants people to learn something from it.

The three main ingredients in beer are clean water, barley and hops. All of those ingredients are threatened by climate change. Weather extremes such as drought and flooding are ravaging crops across the country.  

The main source of New Belgium's water is the Poudre River. Historic wildfires fueled by climate change have burned the forests in the canyon and polluted the river with ashen runoff — making the water supply at times unusable. 

"We view climate change as an existential threat to New Belgium," Fechheimer said. 

"Torched Earth" is a wake-up call for consumers. Instead of clean water, it is brewed with the smoke-tainted version. High-quality hops are replaced with climate-resilient dandelion root, and barley gets swapped for buckwheat. 

New Belgium is aware that beer pales in comparison to the deadly impacts of climate change already impacting the planet. The brewery is trying to do its part by powering much of its operation with solar panels. 

Katie Wallace, New Belgium's director of environmental impact, said "Torched Earth" is meant to start a conversation. 

"If climate change is our client, then yes it's a PR stunt for climate change and the goal of that is to raise awareness for climate action."

Creed Comments: I’m a big fan of Fat Tire beers and I love the idea behind Torched Earth. We’ll see how well the public takes to this innovative, public awareness campaign for climate change.


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