Biden's Climate-Team, ASSEMBLED!
Plus, Congress Passes Climate Legislation for the First Time In Years..
Hi there GreenNewDealMakers,
Happy holidays, and a Merry Christmas to all of you who celebrate, from #GenGND!
It’s been another BUSY week for the climate beat! And honestly, we’re just feeling a little burnt out as this crazy year winds down…So, we thought we’d turn this week’s newsletter into another ‘rundown’ of sorts, or perhaps we’ll just call it an extended version of our Green New Reading List!
For starters, in case you missed the excitement from the incoming Biden Administration’s Climate Team appointments last week—or, if you’re just looking to continue celebrating the climate movement’s victories—we made a special holiday bonus pod, breaking all the picks down, which you can listen to right now!
We’ll be back with another #GenGND conversation before the end of the year…And our next full episode—about Senator Ed Markey’s 2020 Primary Campaign, featuring the #GreenNewDealMaker himself!— will drop in early January, so please stay tuned (and be sure to subscribe!!)
Next, Congress may have actually done something…on climate, for literally the first time in years, as part of a trillion dollar appropriations bill which had a COVID relief package attached to it. The bill, which was passed late on Sunday has been written about by many who are much smarter, and more well-versed in breaking this type of thing down than us. So, here’s a collection of the coverage we’ve found most helpful in understanding just WTF is in this gargantuan spending bill…
Friend of the pod, (and newly-minted Substack writer!) David Roberts had this to say about the bill in his piece “CONGRESS MIGHT PASS A HUGE ENERGY BILL AND IT’S ACTUALLY PRETTY GREAT”…
I’m not going to do an itemized list of all the energy stuff in the bill, it would take forever and be boring. But I will highlight a few parts worth noting.
First off, the legislation will include a bill that would sign the US on to the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, which would reduce the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) by 85% over 15 years. HFCs (used in air-conditioning, refrigerants, aerosols, etc.) are potent greenhouse gases, so full international implementation of the amendment is projected to avoid 0.5°C worth of warming all on its own.
Just in the US, the research outfit Rhodium Group estimates that the HFC restrictions will reduce a cumulative 900 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, which is more than Germany emits in a year. To boot, a study by the University of Maryland in 2018 found that implementation would create 33,000 new US manufacturing jobs and add $12.5 billion to the US economy every year for the next decade.
This HFCs legislation has been a long time coming. Even if it were the only energy provision in the bill, it would make it one of the biggest climate stories of the year.
Another unexpected bit of good news was the short-term extension of several key clean-energy tax credits that were scheduled to expire this year. They have long been important to the growth of the industry. The investment tax credit (ITC, mostly used by solar) was bumped up two years; the production tax credit (PTC, mostly used by wind) got a year; randomly, offshore wind got a five-year bump; and lamentably, the electric vehicle (EV) credit was not extended at all.
Mother Jones reporter Rebecca Leber also wrote a great piece about the bill “THE STIMULUS SHOWS THE BEST CONGRESS HAS TO OFFER ON CLIMATE CHANGE”…And she had a slightly different take, here’s how it starts:
Environmentalists are describing the year-end $900 billion stimulus bill just passed by Congress as the most ambitious climate legislation passed in over a decade. Contained in the package is a raft of climate measures that actually garnered bipartisan agreement, like extended tax credits for clean energy industries, promoting clean energy research and development, updating federal agency missions to tackle climate change, and empowering agencies to cut certain super-pollutant greenhouse gasses.
But think about it for a minute: this is the most ambitious law we’ve seen? In the scope of the challenges we face on climate change, these accomplishments are marginal at best, and far from the trillions of dollars and clear regulatory priorities that are needed, as outlined in Biden’s presidential climate platform.
Congress is inching us along in tackling climate change, when the country needs to be making leaps on the scale of what other countries have done to pass their versions of what amount to a Green New Deal stimulus.
PLUS—here’s some other important climate-reading on the internet this week…
“HAALAND’S NOMINATION COULD SIGNAL PIVOT POINT FOR TRIBAL SOVEREIGNTY” —by Jenni Monet, for Sierra Magazine
“BLACK PEOPLE HAVE BEEN SAYING WE CAN’T BREATHE FOR DECADES”—an interview with one of the founders of the environmental justice movement, Dr. Robert Bullard, by Marcella Mulholland & Julian Brave-Noisecat, for Vice
“EXXON KNOWS IT’S CLIMATE FUTURE AND KEEPS DATA FROM VIEW” —By Kevin Crowley & Akshat Rathi, for Bloomberg CLIMATE
Finally, we’re aiming to raise $10,000 by the end of the year to continue producing our short-form content, the documentary, as well as more episodes of the podcast.
Thanks to generous supporters, we’re already one-third of the way there. If you’re able, please consider pitching in to help us reach our goal by making a year-end contribution to our work, on ActBlue!
Or, If you’d like to make a tax-deductible contribution to our 501(c)3, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we can easily accommodate.