Today is Thursday. Welcome to Equilibrium, a newsletter tracking the growing global battle over the future of sustainability. Sign up here: thehill.com/newsletter-signup.
The brand that has long guided American moms (and dads) to kiddie soccer games and sweat-soaked performing arts recitals is planning to develop an all-electric version of its signature minivan.
Chrysler CEO Chris Feuell recently announced plans to launch an electric minivan, as part of a broad list of new vehicles that will include four new electric Chryslers by 2028, CNET reported. This minivan may also become a “multi-purpose vehicle” in an attempt to move away from outdated conventions, Feuell told MotorTrend.
“While he appreciates the value of Chrysler’s reputation as a family brand, he would like to expand the tent to more than just families with young children,” MotorTrend reported, after speaking with Feuell. “She wants a vehicle that works and appeals to whatever kind of family you’re a part of, not just the outdated ‘soccer mom’ stereotype.”
Today we’ll focus on California, where celebrities, activists, and electric vehicle enthusiasts are fighting a proposal that could cut subsidies for solar roofs that provide residents with significant savings. Then we’ll look at whether deforestation is as big a threat to the US financial system as carbon emissions, and what to do about it.
Celebrities Unite to Save Rooftop Solar Subsidy
Elon MuskElon Reeve MuskThe Hill’s Morning Report – Featured by Facebook – Biden Clarifies Russia Comments Al Gore: Emission Reductions Hinged on AI Measurements From Space Hillicon Valley: States Probing Tech Giants PLUS Basketball Legend Bill Walton and actors Edward Norton and Mark Ruffalo were among celebrities who spoke out Wednesday against a California proposal that would cut subsidies for rooftop solar systems, Bloomberg reported.
First words: “Strange move against the environment by the California government,” Musk wrote, while retweeting a post by the Tesla Silicon Valley Club calling on area Tesla owners to act on it.
What is exactly the problem? According to The San Diego Tribune, about 1.3 million Californians today can sell excess rooftop solar generation to utilities through the electric grid and receive credits on their bills through the Net program. Energy Metering. California has not updated this rule since January 2016.
But in December, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) published a lengthy proposal that would bring a long list of changes to this system, the Tribune reported.
The CPUC justified the latest revision with the fact that the average Californian without rooftop solar pays about $100 a month for grid access, the Tribune reported.
Tesla owners called for action: The Tesla Silicon Valley Club has called on area Tesla owners to “tell Governor [Gavin] Newsom [D] and the CPUC to reject the proposed solar tax and retroactive changes to existing solar customers.
The message accused the CPUC of “giving in to pressure from California utilities,” adding that the proposal would make Californians pay the highest solar rates in the country, according to a report in the trade magazine Solar Builder.
The utilities blamed in the Tesla message include Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), Southern California Edison (SCE), and San Diego Gas & Electrical (SDG&E).
WEIGH-IN OF NORTON, RUFFALO AND WALTON
Norton, best known for his role in Fight Club and American History X, called on Californians to “make noise about this” in a Twitter post.
“This is truly a moment of truth & choice between an American Renewal, characterized by technological innovation & business dynamism that made this country a power or remain chained to bankruptcy & dirty system,” he tweeted.
Meanwhile, Ruffalo published a California Solar & Storage Association, which is asking Californians to join a “Rally to Save Our Solar Jobs” in San Francisco and Los Angeles on Thursday.
Walton, a basketball hall of famer and longtime advocate for solar energy, sent a letter to Newsom asking him to reject the CPUC’s proposal, according to Bloomberg.
What does the governor have to say? Newsom agreed that changes to the state proposal were needed to reduce rooftop solar incentives, at a state budget news conference on Monday, Bloomberg Quint reported.
“We still have work to do,” Newsom said.
Whats Next? While the CPUC had been scheduled to hear oral arguments on the plan at a Wednesday hearing, those arguments have been postponed to a later unspecified date, a spokesperson for the Environmental Working Group (EWG) confirmed to Equilibrium.
“Gift” and “Extortion” Accusations “Gov. Newsom simply cannot allow this gift from state regulators to utilities, at the expense of California consumers and climate, to go forward under his watch and define his record on climate change,” Ken Cook, president of EWG and a California resident, said in a statement.
Cook stressed that consumers are “being ripped off this winter by skyrocketing energy costs” and fees to pay for wildfires “caused by PG&E and other utilities.”
CUPC’s proposal, he argued, is only “intended to boost utility profits and crush the only competition they now face”: California rooftop customers.
Final Words: “We appreciate the Governor’s comments and respectfully urge him to use his voice and full authority to stop the ill-conceived plan,” Cook added.
Deforestation puts the financial system at risk
A new report finds that US banks are actively financing a global epidemic of deforestation and land degradation that puts the nation’s financial stability at risk.
That means the Biden administration must pay the same attention to curbing global deforestation as it has paid to reducing the risk of fossil fuel emissions, or invite creeping economic collapse, the consultancy Climate Advisers argued in the report.
First words: “It is clear that financial sector links to deforestation should receive the same level of attention as foreign financing of fossil fuels,” the authors wrote.
“Action by the Biden administration, the Federal Reserve and the Securities and Exchange Commission could have huge climate benefits, while protecting American investors from outright risk,” they added.
An Existing Tailwind: The Biden administration has repeatedly pointed to the risk that climate change, and the economic transition away from fossil fuels, pose to the nation’s economic stability.
Last May, President BidenJoe BidenSunday shows a breakthrough: the US reaffirms its support for Ukraine amid the threat of a Russian invasion. The Fed has a clear mandate to mitigate climate risks. Biden says Roe v. Wade is under attack like ‘never before’. government to develop “consistent, clear, intelligible, comparable and accurate disclosure of climate-related financial risk,” The Hill reported.
He signed another executive order demanding an end to federal funding for offshore coal plants in December, a month after the administration joined a global commitment to end deforestation by 2030.
But so far, these initiatives have followed parallel and unconnected paths, leaving investors in the dark about what risky businesses they may be investing in, the Climate Advisers report argued.
DOMESTIC RISKS OF FOREIGN DEFORESTATION
For a temperate country, the US economy surprisingly depends on products that come from tropical forests. US importers generated $618 billion in tropical products in 2020, of which $76 billion in agricultural products, a trade that affects nearly 40 percent of the US economy, according to Climate Advisers.
Much of this danger is direct: the threat involves goods and services that tropical forests provide and that American consumers and businesses depend on, from chocolate and coffee to rain and cutting-edge pharmaceuticals.
But this only scratches the surface: atmospheric rivers, regions of the atmosphere that flow and transport water vapor, that is, according to NASA.
Ecosystem services at risk: And half of the world’s gross domestic product (about $44 trillion in economic value) depends “moderately or heavily” on nature, according to a 2020 study by the World Economic Forum. The agricultural sector, the main culprit in deforestation and soil erosion, is also “among those most dependent on ecosystem services,” the Climate Advisers report noted.
The loss of pollinating species such as bats, birds, flies and bees puts hundreds of billions of dollars in US agricultural production at risk, according to the report.
The collapse of key services provided by landscapes, from pollination to the harvesting of wild fisheries, could lead to a $2.7 trillion decline in global GDP by 2030, according to a World Bank report.
Then there are pandemics: The coronavirus pandemic is thought to have emerged from a species of bat that was forced into close contact with humans due to deforestation in the global wildlife trade, and loss of wilderness. it directly contributes to the emergence of new pandemic diseases in humans, according to a 2020 study in Nature.
Conclusions: The report identifies a simple solution: the administration must pay the same attention to deforestation as to fossil fuels.
That means focusing on more than just emissions and requiring companies to assess and disclose the role of deforestation itself in their supply chains.
Dirty gold in high-tech, China’s coal supply problems threaten its climate commitments, and sewage plagues an Alabama town.
Illegal Amazon gold enters US tech supply chain: AP
Cutting China’s coal imports may also lower its climate ambition
Alabama city sewer problems put infrastructure bill to the test
Visit The Hill’s sustainability section online for the web version of this newsletter and more stories. See you on Friday.