Opinion | Will Iván Duque Protect Environmental Defenders? – The New York Times

Blanca Lucía Echeverry and 

“At the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, President Iván Duque of Colombia carried out a charm offensive to convince the world he is an environmental champion who would protect his nation’s vast forets. He promised Colombia would be carbon neutral by 2050 and that, by next year, 30 percent of the country’s land and waters would be protected areas.

But back in Colombia, armed gangs are threatening and murdering community leaders and environmental activists who have been trying to protect Colombia’s forest from destruction by mining, lumber and oil companies. Morbidly, Colombia has emerged as the world’s deadliest place for environmentalists and others defending land rights. Global Witness documented at least 65 killings in 2020.”

Jeffrey Ball | The Developing World Is Falling Short on Emissions Reductions – The New York Times

Mr. Ball, a writer focusing on energy and the environment, is the scholar in residence at Stanford University’s Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance and a lecturer at Stanford Law School.

Nowhere is cutting carbon emissions more crucial than in the world’s emerging and developing economies, where the thirst for energy, and the output of carbon dioxide, is rising the fastest. New power plants there will lock in the trajectory of global warming for decades to come.

But here’s the big problem: Fifty-two percent of new power generation financed in those countries from 2018 through 2020 is on track to be inconsistent with the global goal of keeping Earth’s average temperature from surpassing 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. That’s the threshold scientists have said is crucial to stave off particularly disastrous effects from global warming.

The biggest foreign financiers of these projects were in Japan, China and South Korea. But significant funds have also been coming from banks, utilities and other companies in the countries themselves.

On a Pacific Island, Russia Tests Its Battle Plan on Climate Change – The New York Times

“SAKHALIN ISLAND, Russia — Sixteen wind turbines are slated to go up amid the winding coast and wooded hills of this Russian island in the Pacific, creating a wind park bigger than any that currently exists in the vast reaches of the country’s Far East.

The clean energy generated by the new wind park will go toward mining more coal.

Russia is scrambling to retain the wealth and power that come from selling fossil fuels to the world, even as the Kremlin increasingly acknowledges climate change to be a human-made crisis that the country needs to do more to address.

Last week, President Vladimir V. Putin said Russia would stop adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere by 2060. It was a remarkable reversal since Mr. Putin has long dismissed climate science and many in his country see international efforts to combat global warming as part of a Western plot to weaken Russia. His announcement comes two weeks before world leaders are set to converge in Glasgow for a pivotal U.N. climate summit.

But it’s unclear if Russia is sincere in its new pledge. Russian energy experts and government officials acknowledge the moves are largely driven by economics, with the European Union’s plans for tariffs on heavily polluting countries threatening exports from Russia, the fourth biggest among nations in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. Some elements of Russia’s plans have prompted skepticism, including a heavy reliance on forests as a tool to absorb carbon dioxide.”

 

Peter Coy | ‘The Most Important Number You’ve Never Heard Of’ – The New York Times

Opinion Writer

“There’s a good reason climate change is called the policy problem from hell. Several good reasons, actually, but let’s start with a big one: Fighting climate change forces society to spend real money today to reap benefits that will occur over hundreds or even thousands of years. We’re not set up to be that farsighted, either financially or mentally.

Ideally, we would know precisely how much damage each ton of greenhouse gas emissions does to the environment (we don’t). We would know how much each dollar of economic output contributes to emissions, now and in the future. We would know how quickly the population and the economy will grow, including how rich we’ll all be in the future. Does it make sense for us to deprive ourselves today in order to make the planet more habitable for our great-great-grandchildren? If you answer yes, how much should we tighten our belts — a little or a lot?

Trying to answer such questions is “totally ridiculous and no one in their right mind would attempt to do it,” James Stock, a Harvard University economist, said on Sept. 9 at a virtual conference put on by the Brookings Institution.

Ridiculous, yes, but also essential, as Stock recognizes. There is no alternative. Stock moderated a session on a new paper that attempts to calculate the social cost of carbon — that is, the economic harm done by each incremental ton of carbon dioxide. That paper, which draws on the wisdom of the world’s top experts in economics, climatology and other fields, aims to inform the Biden administration, which has promised to announce its own calculation of the social cost of carbon in January.”

Court Blocks a Vast Alaskan Drilling Project, Citing Climate Dangers – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — A federal judge in Alaska on Wednesday blocked construction permits for an expansive oil drilling project on the state’s North Slope that was designed to produce more than 100,000 barrels of oil a day for the next 30 years.

The multibillion-dollar plan, known as Willow, by the oil giant ConocoPhillips had been approved by the Trump administration and legally backed by the Biden administration. Environmental groups sued, arguing that the federal government had failed to take into account the effects that drilling would have on wildlife and that the burning of the oil would have on global warming.

A federal judge has agreed.

In her opinion, Judge Sharon L. Gleason of the United States District Court for Alaska wrote that when the Trump administration permitted the project, the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management’s exclusion of greenhouse gas emissions in its analysis of the environmental effects of the project was “arbitrary and capricious.””

Margaret Renkl | I Don’t Want to Spend the Rest of My Days Grieving – The New York Times

Ms. Renkl is a contributing Opinion writer who covers flora, fauna, politics and culture in the American South.

“NASHVILLE — Sometimes I remember how I tried to comfort my children when they encountered a setback or were disappointed that a dream they were nurturing had not yet come true.

“Life’s a long process,” I would say, echoing my father’s reassurances. “There’s still time.”

But that was long ago, when I was still young enough to believe those words of comfort. Now my father is gone, and my mother too, and I know that life is not at all a long process. Life is the glint of light on rushing water, a flash of lightning. Life is a single wink from a single lightning bug.

How brief is the season of “splendour in the grass,” as the poet William Wordsworth put it, and surely summer is the time that brings such lessons closest to home. The dog days of August crisp the spring-green underbrush to crackling tinder. The children trudge back to school under a blistering sun. We wonder: What has become of the languorous summer we longed for back in the sadness of winter? Where did the endless, grass-fragrant days go?”

In Fighting Climate Change, What’s an Individual to Do? – The New York Times

“Watching deer forage for whatever bits of food they can find through the cold months of winter, I can understand why some people feel an urge to feed them. Only supplemental feeding isn’t helpful at all to deer. Instead, it’s detrimental to their digestive health, and it pulls them away from safer, more nutritious food sources.

“Supplemental feeding has little or no benefit to the overall health of deer,” said Nick Fortin, Deer Project Leader for the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department. “Interestingly, northern deer will lose weight in winter no matter what or how much they are fed, even in captivity.”

Like virtually all animals living in climates where winter is cold and snowy, deer use a variety of adaptations to adjust and survive. In the northern part of the Northeast, they often gather in deer yards, where softwood cover offers shelter from wind and cold as well as decreased snow depth. As deer move to and through their winter shelter, they pack down paths, allowing for easier travel to food and quicker escapes from predators.

In winter, deer reduce their energy expenditures by hunkering down during extended cold stretches; this way they can focus their activity during times when temperatures are warmer. Similar to animals that hibernate, deer store fat – it can constitute up to 20 percent of their body weight, said Fortin – and they can use that fat as a sort of energy savings account.

A deer’s digestive system also goes through changes to cope with less abundant – and different – food sources. Deer are ruminants, which means they have a four-chambered stomach, like cows and sheep. Each chamber contains microorganisms to help with digestion. These microbes become tuned in to a winter diet of twigs and buds, nuts, any fruits and berries that persist, and whatever grasses they can find. A sudden change in diet – say to supplemental corn or rich hay – can wreak havoc on this system. . . . .

. . . .Mr. Greenberg said some things mattered more than others. Using paper straws and LED light bulbs is not a huge way to reduce your carbon footprint. But steering clear of bottled water does help, since it takes 17 million barrels of oil to produce the world’s plastic water bottles each year.” . . . .

Ellen MacArthur on the Circular Economy | Morgan Stanley

Ellen MacArthur, the fastest solo sailor to circumnavigate the globe and founder of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, talks with Chief Sustainability Officer Audrey Choi about designing an economy that keeps materials in use to reduce waste.

How do some of the most influential figures in government and business imagine tackling the world’s major sustainability challenges?

In this series from the Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing, Chief Sustainability Officer Audrey Choi sits down with policymakers, CEOs and nonprofit leaders to talk about ideas for systemic change.

Source: Ellen MacArthur on the Circular Economy | Morgan Stanley

A Bet 20 Years Ago Made It the Exxon of Green Power – The New York Times

“MADRID — In the winter of 2015, three directors of a Connecticut electric company met with a potential acquirer: a determined Spanish utility executive named José Ignacio Sánchez Galán, who surprised them with a bold vision for America’s utility industry.

“He was very clear then that he saw the U.S. as having enormous potential in renewable energy,” said John L. Lahey, who was chairman of the company, United Illuminating. “This guy six years ago was already way ahead of where the U.S. was.”

Mr. Galán clinched that deal for United Illuminating for $3 billion. His company, Iberdrola, is now poised, with a Danish partner, to begin constructing the first large-scale offshore wind farm in the United States, in waters off Massachusetts. Over all, Iberdrola and its subsidiaries reach 24 U.S. states and have investments in countries from Britain to Brazil to Australia.

For the past 20 years, since he took over Iberdrola, based in Bilbao with 37,000 employees, Mr. Galán has been on a mission to upend the electrical utility industry, a fragmented collection of companies tied to aging coal- and oil-burning generators.  . . . “

Tesla’s Latest Solar Stumble: Big Price Increases – The New York Times

“On an October evening five years ago, Elon Musk used a former set for “Desperate Housewives” to show off Tesla’s latest innovation: roof shingles that can generate electricity from the sun without unsightly solar panels.

After delays, Tesla began rolling out the shingles in a big way this year, but it is already encountering a major problem. The company is hitting some customers with price increases before installation that are tens of thousands of dollars higher than earlier quotes, angering early adopters and raising big questions about how Tesla, which is better known for its electric cars, is running its once dominant rooftop solar business.

Dr. Peter Quint was eager to install Tesla’s solar shingles on his 4,000-square-foot home in Portland, Ore., until the company raised the price to $112,000, from $75,000, in a terse email. When he called Tesla for an explanation, he was put on hold for more than three hours.

“I said, ‘This isn’t real, right?’” said Dr. Quint, whose specialty is pediatric critical care. “The price started inching up. We could deal with that. Then this. At that price, in our opinion, it’s highway robbery.”  . . . :